SPONSORED: Business Spotlight On "The Deli"

Roosevelt Island's Oldest Small Business: Bread & Butter Market

Updated 18 weeks ago David Stone

Time for a fresh look at "the deli," Bread & Butter Market, 579 Main Street, Roosevelt Island...

 

The Tram celebrated its fortieth birthday, and a ceremony and news reports told its story. But another Roosevelt Island institution turned forty that year too. More quietly, but with just a much resilience, “The Deli” became officially middle-aged. 

And like the Tram, it thrives under new management.

For decades, it was M&D Deli, the place with the watchful cat, where fresh coffee waited a few steps from the Red Bus shelter. You were as likely to find Buddy Hackett in line with you as you might the neighbor you never ran into anywhere else. 

Spurred by Hudson Related’s push to upgrade Main Street retail, this nexus that quietly claims its place as a center of our community’s gravity evolved into Bread & Butter Market, a more apt name for a business with so much filling up its shelves.

Bread & Butter Market, well-stocked shelves, friendly services...
Bread & Butter Market, well-stocked shelves, friendly services...
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

As Roosevelt Islanders, we like to think of ourselves as an extended family connected through shared interests and lifestyles. Bread & Butter Market has been able to grow and change with us because it is a family business, handed down from one generation to the next, changing and adjusting with us as Roosevelt Island's population grew and expanded.

It’s one thing to sell products customers need. It’s another to be a place so well liked and familiar it has a nickname. For generations of Roosevelt Islanders, it's just “The Deli.” 

Trust and Value

No matter what the sign says, this store will always be so much a part of our daily routines that its nickname will stick.

Bread & Butter Market
Bread & Butter Market
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Roosevelt Island, like the rest of New York, runs on coffee. It’s hard to find a time when The Deli’s self-serve machines aren’t busy. That may be what brings you in the door, the first time. What brings you back is more likely to be the smartly designed availability of products you use every day.

While other small markets blur their convenience store identities, Bread & Butter demonstrates why the idea is brilliant when it works.

Well stocked aisles offer varieties of choice in coffee, cereals, canned goods and beverages. Larger, big name retailers nearby often have less choice and at higher prices. And at this gem of convenience, the laundry detergent, juice or milk you want is a few steps away, not so far you might need a guide to find your way back to your cart.

Too busy to shop...? Bread & Butter Market offers Free Delivery. Just call 212-838-3964.

After Ammar Awawdeh shepherded The Deli into its new incarnation as Bread & Butter Market, the store retained its friendliness, a marked difference from its larger competitors. You can’t put enough value on having a place that resonates with its neighborhood the way the corner stores many of us grew up with did.

You’ll hear customers greeted by name and light personal conversations passing across the counter as customers check out. Clerks don’t just say, “Thank you,” they add, “See you later,” because they know they will.

Why We Like Our Deli, Whatever It’s Called

It's Bread & Butter Market to us now as the old M&D name faded. Newcomers and next generations will nevertheless learn to value the standards set here, just as they flock to the reliability and convenience of the Tram, which is actually a few months younger.

The Deli started with us on Roosevelt Island. It was there when the new buildings went up, modern Red Buses were phased in, RIOC transitioned through administrations and cars began filling the once quiet street out front. It was there through hurricanes and other disasters, and it was even there when the Mets last won a World Series. 

Through four decades, we have relied on The Deli. The Deli has relied on us.

Bread & Butter Market is part of our extended family, a remarkable achievement in trust and reliability through all the changes as our community grew into one much like and, in significant ways, very different from anything the early planners envisioned.

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