Newark Landmark Hobby's Deli Looks to Spring Reopening

Other changes have been compelled by COVID-19. The dining room will not immediately be reopened as Hobby's becomes a more socially distanced spot in the name of safety. While waiting for the pandemic to peak, takeout orders will be a major business mainstay. Hobby's catering service, driven by corporations, law firms, local universities and hospitals, as well as the courts, will remain in somewhat suspended animation while the whispered rumors continue about widespread reopening.

Despite the unprecedented difficulties created by COVID, the Brummer brothers credo is adapt and overcome.

"We have made changes over the years to fit the conditions on the ground. If we have to be smaller, so be it. If we have to switch from catering to single sandwiches for a while, so be it," Michael Brummer said. "We've done takeout and delivery forever. We can bring it out to your car."

It is ultimately the food that makes people call out to the Brummers brothers from cars driving by, begging them to come back. When the doors reopen, Hobby's will be ready. The restart menu will include the deli's venerated corned beef, pastrami, and turkey. Chicken, pea, and matzo ball soup will appease appetites and soothe the soul. 

For Barringer High School boys basketball coach Phil Taylor and many others, Hobby's is part of the soul of Newark. 

"The people need them because they are a home-bred, traditional staple of the community. I need them because when I can come in here before our games and get a sandwich, it's a good day," Taylor said. "The virus might dictate a lot of what we do, but it's still up to us to keep places like Hobby's going. We can take care of our businesses by supporting them. We can get takeout orders if we can't come in to eat yet. We can use social media to keep the momentum going. Spread the word. That's the way to get people to come back. Then the line will be around the block."

The brothers behind Hobby's know that they are going to have to sell a lot of sandwiches to come back in full force. Therefore, they need their myriad fans to literally put their money where their mouths are.  

"We have a customer from one of the local hospitals who calls just so she can hear our answering machine message, hoping that someone will pick up and say hello," Marc Brummer said. "We're going to need every last one of those customers."

Although 2021 is ending with the shadow of COVID still hanging over Newark, Hobby's is looking homeward for the context that supplies a needed ray of sunshine. 

"Our father Sam came from Poland after he experienced vicious anti-Semitism, was drafted into the service, landed on D-Day and saw horrors that no one should see, survived the war, came back to Newark, and built a life. He was the eternal optimist," Marc Brummer said. "You have to have optimism. That's what we're doing here." 

People on the street in Newark continue to watch and wait to see what Hobby's is doing. Local residents stop by and wave. Construction workers momentarily stop from building new apartments nearby to shout out encouragement. Former Newark mayor and U.S. Senator Cory Booker recently said hello. 

All of these salutations help fuel the deli that desperately wants to start feeding Newark again. 

"Hope is not just about a deli reopening. It's about people doing the right thing, including getting vaccinated, so that we all get back to work and back to life. But all of this support definitely gives us hope. It means that we mean something to people," Marc Brummer said. "There really isn't a whole lot more in life than that. We're a family business that gives people a little happiness. I'll take that." 

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-01-02 04:02:09 -0800