Myakka City's Mellie Fernandez always dreamt of opening a deli.
Myakka City's Mellie Fernandez wanted to add touches from the New York City delis her uncle, Tony Salcounie, used to own.
So when patrons enter Bradenton's new Mellie's New York Deli & Eatery, they immediately notice the brick walls and a fireman's jacket worn by her brother-in-law (Al Castro) which now hangs on a wall.
“Everything in here is from New York,” Fernandez said. “We did the brick and the traffic light hanging up there because it reminds us of the city.”
She also wanted the food to remind her customers of New York delis. To that end, she only offers top quality meats and cheeses by brands such as the Metro Deli line and Boar's Head, which her uncle featured.
Her deli's salads are made fresh each morning using family recipes. The menu offers "New York style burgers," Stromboli and "the biggest street dogs." Hero sandwiches, bagels and breakfast sandwiches such as "The Street Walker" are offered.
Mellie Fernandez and her husband, Lazarus Fernandez, visited as many delis as they could within an 80-mile radius of Bradenton. They wanted to make sure their business, which opened in August, would be one-of-a-kind for the area. They feel they have succeeded.
Just opening the deli was emotional for Mellie Fernandez, who is a 34-year-old mother of three (1-year-old Gianna, 6-year-old Ayanna and 7-year-old Alena).
“This was a dream of mine,” she said. “We just had the baby (Gianna Fernandez), and we knew we were done having kids, so we figured it was a perfect time to start this new venture.”
Mellie Fernandez grew up in Westchester County and once she entered high school she made the trip into the city each day to work for her uncle. She hopes to eventually pass her work ethic along to her children.
And she hopes to pass the feel of a New York deli to her customers in Bradenton.
“You won’t see a deli with this quality, the look and the feel,” her husband said.
Lazarus and Mellie Fernandez feel their location just west of Interstate 75 and off State Road 64 is perfect due to what they say is a lack of competition for their market.
“We found that this plaza has no other place that serves breakfast, and we do, so we were able to do something with that,” Fernandez said. “We are only open for breakfast and lunch, and a lot of places here are maybe open for lunch, but mainly for dinner, so we just really liked the location.”
Of course, her main goal is to make people feel they are walking into a deli in New York.
“When you walk in, you just feel like you’re at home,” she said.