This is a small-business story with a happy ending. On February 1, Steve Crane, owner of Crane’s Deli & Cheese Shoppe on Maplewood Avenue, announced that he would be shutting his doors at the end of March.
Steve had made no secret of the fact that he and his landlord, Saul Fisher, had not been able to see eye to eye on the rent. Still, no one thought that after six years in business, Crane’s would actually close.
Devastated customers filed into the deli, asking him to reconsider. They filled Maplewood Online’s message board with comments expressing their shock and disappointment. They began to mourn the impending loss of the shrimp po’boy, smoked tomato soup, chicken burritos and grilled Rueben. (I was despondent to think that the best egg sandwich in town and the best BLT anywhere would be no more.)
But this story is about more than just food. If you want to know what makes Maplewood tick, order a sandwich or a cup of coffee at Crane’s and wait a while. Here are some people you might meet: local merchants, musicians, mommy bloggers, real estate agents, writers, public officials, hair stylists, artists, news anchors, construction workers. If you don’t know someone, Steve will make sure you are introduced by the time your BLT comes off the grill.
Steve and his wife, Janet, have raised their two children in Maplewood and volunteer tirelessly to many local causes. The town is not only where their business is located; it is their home.
Two weeks after his bombshell statement, he posted this message on Facebook: “I am glad to announce that Crane’s Deli & Cheese Shoppe will remain open as we have reached an amicable agreement with our landlord…We look forward to seeing you in the future.”
The general sense was that a bullet had been dodged; some commended Steve for his adept negotiating “tactic.” He would only say, “I am glad that Saul and I were able to work together and I hope that other landlords and merchants can do the same.” He added: “Everyone loves the Village, but unless they shop here these stores and restaurants will not make it.”
“Crane’s is part of our community,” said Maplewood Village Alliance manager Julie Doran. “Steve and his crew are a part of what makes Maplewood Village special.”
Here, here. And Crane’s, we are glad you are staying right here.