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  • Jack Meltzer

The Legacy of the Deli

Credits: Jack Meltzer

Almost every Walls student has been to the deli at some point. It is a friendly, New York City bodega-style family business with employees that are eager to get to know you. The deli is notable for its long lines and chaotic lunch scenes. The small space is always packed by lunchtime. Leo’s GW Delicatessen is so iconic that Walls students and teachers alike just refer to it as “the deli.”

Part of its popularity is due to its relatively cheap prices compared to other lunch options in the area. Normal size cold sandwiches at the deli range from the $3.45 PB&J to the $8.45 turkey club with bacon. At Western Market’s Capo Deli, by comparison, all small cold sandwiches are $12.50 and large ones are $15.50. In fact, almost nothing at the deli is over $10.

However, the cheap prices are not the only thing impressive about the deli. There is a lot more to this lunch option than meets the eye.

In 2004, the GW Hatchet published an obituary of a man named Leo Amborgi. Why would GW, let alone School Without Walls, care about this New Yorker born in 1908? Amborgi was the founder and owner of the GW deli.

In the early 1940s, Amborgi was a GW student who ran a sandwich shop as a side source of income. Eventually, his sandwich business became so popular that Amborgi decided to drop out of the school after only two years to open the full-time GW deli.

After his death in 2004, ownership passed on to his son, John Amborgi, the current owner of the deli. Even today, anytime a student buys a pack of gum or piece of candy, his sons John or Matt are likely behind the counter. The Ambrogis owned and ran the deli since Leo first opened in 1945. Perhaps this is what maintains the deli’s truly remarkable atmosphere.

Junior Ben Yarkin visits the deli five times a week and has earned his self proclaimed title as the deli’s top one or two customers. “My favorite part [about the deli] is the vibe. I know a few of the employees and they are always relaxed and happy,” Yarkin said.

Not only does the deli have a great atmosphere, amazing history, and cheap prices, it boasts excellent food options. The deli’s legacy has gone on to help GW and Walls students alike. Even 77 years after it first opened, Walls’ students sing its praises.

Juniors August Rundlet and Ben Shelsby greatly recommended the bacon, egg, and cheese and the sausage, egg, and cheese as high quality breakfasts, lunches, or afterschool snacks. Yarkin believes the deli cheesesteak is the best thing on the menu.

The deli cheesesteak itself is part of a long and honored tradition among some Walls students known as Cheesesteak Fridays. Starting last March, groups of Walls students have all ordered the deli cheese steak for lunch on Friday. The tradition caught on and on one Friday last June, 11 students all ordered a deli cheesesteak at the same time. Max Ziedler, a loyal participant of Cheesesteak Fridays, said it is “a great way to celebrate the end of the week.”

No place, even the iconic deli, is perfect. Despite the line moving fast, students have noted that the deli usually does have a slightly longer wait than other lunch options. With the line often stretching far past the door, on cold days standing outside in a deli line can be particularly uncomfortable. However, whether in search of a sandwich, a bag of chips, or their world famous crumb cake, the deli has become the go-to spot for GW and Walls students alike.


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