Young, personable, energetic and a go-getter – that’s Urban Deli’s server Lydia in a nutshell. She remembers when she was vying for a job at the Deli and Liz Rowe, the owner, agreed to give her a test run. Lydia was 19 and needed a summer job, so she went straight home and memorized the entire menu overnight, including which aioli’s and breads the sandwiches came with.
“Obviously I was a bit of a keener. Liz told me a couple of years later that she was shocked and impressed by this since during my interview apparently I gazed out the window and she felt I wasn’t really taking it all in. Little did she know then…”
Lydia had been recommended by a family friend who was also a friend of Liz – it was one of those ‘who you know who knows a friend’ of the owner sort of introductions, more than three years ago now. Of course, memorizing the menu is one thing. Faced with a trio of hungry ladies on her first day was another thing completely.
“My first shift was stressful to say the least. I had the communal table and these three ladies came in (I still know who they are to this day) and ordered three turkey sandwiches. Well, we have a smoked turkey sandwich, plus we also have a club sandwich which has the turkey on it as well. I order the three sandwiches, add the white cheddar cheese and hold the reds (tomato and red peppers). I bring out the smoked turkey sandwiches to the table. WRONG SANDWICH. I was so stressed that I was going to be in trouble but Liz was great about it. Staff had smoked turkey sandwiches for lunch instead, and I brought the ladies the correct sandwiches. Everyone won, and that describes the Deli perfectly.”
Becoming a new server always includes memorable mistakes, like the time Lydia tipped an entire tray of pop bottles and glasses onto a table, which soaked everyone and everything. Part of the fun, yes? And likely just as memorable for the customers, too. Or how about the young guy who ordered six raw eggs in a glass for breakfast and you’re trying to keep the ‘ewww’ off your face?
Working in a deli environment is always hustle bustle hectic, and that’s just the way the servers like it. No one day is like the other. Consistency is in the customer service, and of course, the kitchen love.
“Customer service is Number One. Liz has always said the customer’s experience is everything. For example, although a customer may not enjoy their meal, if you go above and beyond and try to provide them with the best service and an enjoyable outing, then they will probably come back. However, if the customer service isn’t there, you won’t get a second chance to change a customer’s mind.“
Clearly, Urban Deli stands out in its level of customer service. The food is equally consistent and oh so delicious. Did you know that the Urban Deli’s sauerkraut is second to none?
“I could live off the sauerkraut. OH MY GOD. It is delicious! I dislike sauerkraut at any other location and only eat ours. It could be because there is bacon in it and isn’t everything better with bacon in it? Have you tried it?”
Talk to enough staff members and you’ll quickly learn it really is family. The Urban Deli Family. It’s 100% the people who make it what it is. Full of squabbles, loyalty, excitement, and always open to new ideas. For instance, Lydia likes to pride herself on introducing the ‘Red Pant’. Liz had chosen black and red for the deli colours, and one day Lydia breezed on in wearing her Deli shirt with bright red pants on. It was a bit hit with everyone and is now part of the Deli uniform.
And when Lydia suddenly couldn’t work?
“Liz and Gord are amazing. I actually love them so much – they have helped build me up and helped get me through the worst moments of my life to date. I need consistency when I am going through a life changing event or crisis and they provide that for me. A few years ago I had to have emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed and was out of work for 6 weeks and they looked after me, concerned I would be struggling since I wasn’t able to work. How SWEET is that?”
And when we’re talking about people making it what it is, we’re also talking about the customers.
“I know so many customers – my parents tend to be socialites – so I knew a lot of people to begin with, but now that I work at the Deli people stop me all the time and say ‘You look so familiar, where do I know you from?’ and the answer is almost always from the Deli. I had lunch at another restaurant today and I saw these two ladies who come in and always order a pulled piggy and a burger and I said ‘Ladies! No pulled piggy and urban burger today!’ They laughed as they recognized me and we had a lovely little chat. I love saying hello to regulars whenever I see them. They are all so lovely.”
Lydia is a very busy gal. She’s currently in school full time at UNB for her Business Degree. She works at Urban Deli, plus at Irving Oil this fall while she attends school. In January 2015 she leaves for Hong Kong for four months, for more school.
Make sure you drop in and say hello before the end of the year!
(Written by Denise Wamsley of Wildhair.ca)