An increasingly 'untenable' business: Redwood City sandwich standby Woodside Deli to close | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Mountain View Online |

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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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An increasingly 'untenable' business: Redwood City sandwich standby Woodside Deli to close

Uploaded: Sep 25, 2019
Facing a sharp rent increase and growing labor costs, Redwood City's longtime Woodside Deli is closing, the owner announced on Facebook on Wednesday.

"It obviously isn't what I wanted to happen when I took over the deli in 2017," wrote owner Kyle Vogel, who reopened the deli at 1453 Woodside Road last fall after a nine-month remodel. "But the reality of being in Redwood City in 2019 is unavoidable."


Woodside Deli is closing after six decades in Redwood City. Photo by Elena Kadvany.

That reality — ever-rising cost of living, a labor shortage, competition with tech companies and chains — is leading to more and more closures of locally owned food businesses throughout the Bay Area.

Woodside Deli's lease expires on Sept. 30. Vogel’s landlord proposed a 52% increase, which was the straw that broke the camel's back, he said in an interview. He's already shouldering rising healthcare costs (Woodside Deli provides insurance for full-time employees) and difficulty finding staff. He said only three employees out of dozens he's hired since taking over the deli in 2017 are still working there, and staff often have left due to the high cost of housing in the area. If one or two employees are out on a busy day, the deli feels it — and "when we become systemically down one and down two it's just untenable," Vogel said.

Signing onto a new lease in this "ecosystem" didn’t feel worth the risk, he said.

"It's not going to get better. That's the realization that I came to," he said. "There's not a problem that can be fixed. This is a dilemma … a problem has a solution. A dilemma — this is just the color of water."

He said he didn't try to negotiate a lower rent increase given the other pressures facing his business. He declined to disclose his monthly rate and the proposed rent hike.

"Is it the issue of a 52% rent increase? Sure, but at the same time that's a symptom of just what's going on in Redwood City these days," he said.

Vogel took over the deli when the original owner, Dan Galinetti, retired. Galinetti opened Woodside Deli in 1958. The deli has long made sausage, deli meats, ravioli and prepared foods in house, as well as sold imported Italian products. A longtime customer favorite is the "Godfather" sandwich, a sourdough roll stuffed with mortadella, salami, prosciutto, coppa, provolone, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts, lettuce and onions.

Vogel plans to stay open until all of the existing stock is sold. The last day of business will be sometime in October.

Customers, some who have been eating Woodside Deli's sandwiches since they were children, flooded the shop today, Vogel said. He turned off all of the third-party delivery apps the deli is on as well as its own online ordering system.

"Today wasn't about efficiency," he said. "Today we went old school and pulled numbers and helped people one at a time."

Facebook comments lamenting the closure and the changing nature of Redwood City quickly poured in, thanking the deli and its owners for decades of sandwiches and memories. One poster offered to start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to keep the deli open.

Vogel said the mayor of Redwood City saw his Facebook post and sent Economic Development Manager Don Burrus to the deli to offer the city's help. Vogel appreciated the gesture but is unsure what the city could do given the complexity of the pressures facing local, small businesses in this area. (He did suggest to me the possibility of rent control or providing housing for staff.)

"This is what the city has come to, the area," Vogel said. "We're not the first. We are not likely the last."
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Comments

 +   12 people like this
Posted by It is obvious, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:00 pm

To get California back:

> Kick Mark Zuckerberg and his family out of here.
> Stop using Facebook, Twitter, Social Media
> Stop using Smart Phones
> Stop using the Cloud
> Stop using Netflix

Don't enforce only tech jobs because the other industries fail on account of it. For example, prior to Zuckerberg, Gates' and Obama's Hour of Code came along, students were being encouraged to put their ideas and ideals to good use. Now, it's all about feeding the tech companies, either through personal data or with disposable and highly-educated (with years of experience) employees.

Hospitals are losing doctors in the Bay Area because the majority of people in the Bay Area all want the "Facebook dream", and no one can get that unless they have big pockets to pull from.

Restaurants and areas that were once considered safe or reliable to exist, are all closing. The area is going to be very dangerous, and it will easily make the roughest areas in Detroit look like Disneyland in comparison.

Be warned.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Fellow neighbor, a resident of Woodside,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 3:32 am

We too had fallen under the same circumstances in 2017. I regret to add, there's not much empathy to this situation., especially if your not classified as a minor. I agree with the blogger... this whole new social media movement is causing extreme separations in society. Mom & Pop shops are about to become extinct. We never understood why home renters were protected in these situations for rent increase, but us business owners that take so many risks owning and operating our business have no protections in these harsh situations. Increasing rents is assumable., but to hike up unforeseen amounts is just robbing and destroying someones life that has worked so hard to build stability and to destroy it with no remorse is beyond terrible. We are grateful for so many years of your Deli... we LOVED getting our lunches and bulk orders from you., we're grateful for the quality of food you brought to our community. Thank you for the many years of you provided to all of us.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 7:46 am

We are losing so many independent restaurants and it is not their fault. We will soon have fewer options at higher prices and nothing we seem to be able to do about it.

You can't buy a decent sandwich online. We need our independent delis.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by Bret, a resident of Woodside,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 8:53 am

I'm a long-time Woodside Deli customer and I will miss them. But the facts, as I understand them, are that the new owner closed for 9 months to do a big remodel without having a long-term lease, which seems like a pretty big business mistake. Typically businesses have long leases that give them visibility into what their rent is going to be. So while I'm sympathetic to all the points made (rising cost of labor, benefits, the impact of tech on costs, etc), it seems to me that this is mostly just a business mistake in which the fact that the lease was about to expire wasn't taken into account when he bought and remodeled the place.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Sandra, a resident of Woodside,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 9:30 am

Bret is correct in what he said. This owner Kyle has not been fortunate with 3 other businesses as well. Kinda makes u think doesn't it. Why would anyone in the first few years of business go all out on a remodel when He should have just done what was necessary, he kept our Deli closed for 9 months, nice little business write off there, so is closing the Deli up its all a loss now. Think about it no long term lease bad deal, ....Could it be he knew exactly what he was going to do in the long run..open up businesses or buy businesses to tank them...I hope a Good Italian Businessman comes in like Dan Gallinetti and takes over Woodside Deli, This Deli supported Dan's famil, his employees and this ....n guy is saying that the deli is unsustainable in just 2 yrs. Wow, that may feel true to him but it sure does not feel true to me...Let me see what comes to mind with this guy...Oh the word Grifter.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Eric, a resident of another community,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

Need to work on that headline...


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Wort Schau Lösungen, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 11:58 am

Have been working so many years on bakery. Really hard job. : Web Link


 +   7 people like this
Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Before Vogel took over from the retiring former owner at Woodside Deli, it was a thriving and beloved business....always crowded.

This new owner killed the business -- he alone is responsible. Every decision he made was a bad decision. First, construction closed the deli for almost a year, then when it re-opened the Deli was totally different and sterile. The imported products were gone and the food was horrible. The employees were surly.

Hard to tell if it was intentional or incompetence was to blame. The Woodside Deli neighbors hope a competent new owner will take over....we miss the old Woodside Deli.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by did ya read it?, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 4:14 pm

> he alone is responsible.

A 52% increase in rent.

Uh-huh.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by LOL, a resident of Community Center,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 4:48 pm

“> Kick Mark Zuckerberg and his family out of here.
> Stop using Facebook, Twitter, Social Media
> Stop using Smart Phones
> Stop using the Cloud
> Stop using Netflix"

LOL. Yeah that will be the solution to everything. And when California's economy plummets if this pipe dream is carried out, you will be Gary, Indiana!!!!!! Good joke though.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by charles reilly, a resident of another community,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 6:20 pm

I like that Elena Kadvany is helping to highlight some of the different dimensions of the restaurant business. Many disparate skills are required: culinary, financial, marketing, organizational and more. And ironically, everyone is a Restaurant Critic!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Lynn, a resident of Woodside,
on Sep 27, 2019 at 2:18 pm

I used to go to Woodside Deli at least 2 - 3 times per month until the new owner took over. I tried three times and all three times it took an unreasonable amount of time to be served. I pulled a number, got called and tried to order some deli meat. Was told I have to put you in line. In line was behind about 20 sandwich orders. Now the old staff would have whipped out those 20 sandwiches in 10 - 15 minutes. Not this staff. I literally watch one person spend 20 minutes on a sandwich. It go took me 35 minutes to get some deli meat. They killed this business. Noone has that much time to wait in line for lunch.



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