By Nancy Tannler
4626 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd
11 am – 11 pm
The Eastside Deli is testimony to the fact that a really good sandwich is still an American favorite. With three Portland locations, they offer a variety of fresh, custom sandwiches, housemade soups, sides, salads, desserts and chips.
It all started in 2008 when Cory Eddy and Smiley his friend/partner decided that what was lacking on upper Hawthorne’s repertoire of food choices were deli sandwiches. Neither one of them had an experience in the food industry but as Cory said, “How hard can it be?”
The duo jumped in, convincing Rich at the Liquor store to rent them the little space on the corner of his property. From there they received amazing help from the Health Department who showed them how to set up the kitchen and what they would need. “I’m not sure if new restaurants get this kind of help from them,” Cory said, “but they really organized us from the start.”
Eddy knew from living on the east coast where delis are prolific, what makes a good delicatessen. They chose the best ingredients featuring Boar’s Head meats, good cheeses, Portland French and Dave’s Killer breads and seasonal fresh, local vegetables. At the time they contracted out for the side dishes and desserts.
The first two years were a complete labor of love, Cory worked the first part of the day and Smiley closed. They were open seven days a week from 11 am to 11 pm. Neither one of them made much of a salary, but they could see the neighborhood’s favorable response to the food and persevered.
Fast forward to 2015: Three Eastside Delicatessens, a kitchen to make everything in-house and last year they opened Mad Sons Pub at 11th and SE Madison, the other two delis are in SW by PSU and NW by the University of Portland. Someone asked Cory why they are all named Eastside Deli and he said, “Everythings east of somewhere.”
Over the years they’ve been able delegate more authority to their managers who place all the orders and know what to feature in which location. For Cory it means he has more time for his family and it is an opportunity to share the wealth.
“We’ve managed to keep the prices reasonable and the portions large so that people are satisfied after eating a sandwich here. You’re good for four hours,” Eddy said. The kitchen has been a great asset for all of the delis. Now the macaroni salads, potato salads, soups, anit-pastos and desserts are made a few blocks away. Another amenity Eastside Deli offers is a wide variety of veggie and vegan offerings plus gluten free sandwiches.
The kitchen at the Hawthorne Eastside Deli has been reconfigured many times, but the fact of the matter is that it’s still small. If you are in a hurry, be sure to order ahead. All menus are online at: pdxdeli.com or call 503.236.7313.
There’s something about a simple, straight forward product and hard work that on occassion still works here in a world of chain stores and restaurants. Eddy mused that on Hawthorne, there’s still some independent entrepreneurs that can afford the rent and offer people something unique. Eastside Deli’s notoriety has stretched across the country where a friend of Cory’s spotted someone wearing an Eastside Deli t-shirt in New York City.
Speaking from personal experience, if you haven’t had an Eastside Deli sandwich, you will want to try one. They won’t let you down.