Clyde's exclusive interview
If you hear someone talk about how difficult something is to write, suggest they either write about something they are passionate about or find someone who is passionate about something and then write about them. Such pieces tend to write themselves. You’re more recorder than writer as passion flows easily, the story nearly writing itself.
That is the case here: a much beLUVed local business announces it will shutter its doors and members of a community jump to action. Some go online, seeking to pay tribute or even save it. Others took a more direct action.
Brandywine’s Deli was a part of Winter Park and Park Avenue for four decades. Such sentimental attachment by residents is understandable. From the community that saved Casa Feliz, I would expect no less. While Brandywine’s is now gone, what will replace it may be an even greater testament to this community, all who LUV it, and the amazing resource Winter Park has in such tremendous supply: citizens who take action.
Bobby Simmons is a jeweler from a jewelry family (Simmons Jewelers). He has no previous restaurant experience, but notes he has LUVed eating at Brandywine’s since he was a kid, claiming its Reuben sandwich as his favorite. I spoke to Bobby last week about his new foray into owning a restaurant, the new incarnation of that beLUVed eatery to be called the Tiffany Deli.
As we talk it becomes obvious, but I ask the question, is he excited about this? “Very, very excited,” Bobby says. “I didn’t do this for fame or glory, and I didn’t do it for profit. I did it because I think some of these older places on the Avenue need to stay instead of getting pushed away, having big chains come in and push everybody out. I don’t care if it ever makes a dime.” While many ask if prices will go up, he says they will be inline with what they were.
“Most people are going into business for the money,” he continues. “I make very good money here (at the jewelry store). That’s just going to be fun. If … somebody comes in (to Simmons) and they’re having a bad day, I’ll walk them down there and buy them lunch or dinner.” I joke that he could encounter an epidemic of people having bad days and he quickly responds, “That’s OK.”
He continued, “I’ve watched a hundred businesses — East India to that one (Brandywine’s), Yum Yum Shoppe … there were a lot of good ones, which went away. I just thought I’d step in on this one and try to save it.”
He found out about the closing as many others, reading it in paper. “I called about it. I went down there, and I talked to people about it, but there were so many people who wanted it. They more or less told me to go away.
“Then I called — or I tried to call — the landlord who owns the property and he was on a cruise. I talked to his best friend and he said there are a hundred people who want it, don’t even think about it, there are too many people in line in front of you.
“So I did forget about it. Then two or three weeks later I ran into the landlord, and we just started talking and 24 hours later, I’d signed the lease and it was mine.”
He originally sought to keep as much constant as he could, but found that not to be possible as many unexpected hurdles were encountered. Bobby, often seen driving around Park Avenue in the Smart Car wrapped in the Simmons Jewelers logo, notes that, “[Brandywine’s] was there about 40 years, and we’ve been here about 60, so we’ve got a hundred years combined.”
The interior, he says, will be close to what it was before, but he continued, “… remember the back corner, sort of a dark, dreary room? Everybody’s always called it the punishment room. If you’ve been bad you’ll have to eat your sandwich back there. We’re going to make this the nicest room, ultra nice.”
While he’s been unable to keep many aspects he’d wanted, some changes are eagerly embraced to meet many long-expressed customer requests, such as toasting bread for school kids from Saint Margaret Mary’s. The menu is not yet set in stone, but hot dishes will now likely be part of the offerings and the Tiffany Deli will be open for dinner.
Tiffany Deli, 505 N. Park Ave., will have a “re-grand opening” from 6-9 p.m., Friday, June 1. There will be free sparkling wine, appetizers and entertainment.
A grand opening date has been set for June 1. “We’re sure trying,” he insists, but then goes on to share that if all approvals have not been given, “The party is still going on. I’ll have a caterer out there serving food.”
I’ll see you there.
Clyde Moore operates local sites ILUVWinterPark.com, ILUVParkAve.com and LUVMyRate.com, and aims to help local businesses promote themselves for free and help save them money, having some fun along the way. Email him at [email protected] or write to ILuv Winter Park on Facebook or Twitter.