The Watchung Deli in Montclair has passed many hands since first opening in 1926, but since 1999, it has been owned by two couples Gary and Maureen Kiffer and Robert and Jeanne Johannsen. Home of the wildly popular “Angry Dwarf” sandwich, Watchung Deli is also loved for its other sandwiches, Spinach Dip, lox, macaroni salad, seasonal specials, and more.
That’s why, when Watchung Deli posted a message on its Facebook page that they were selling the deli, the response from locals was overwhelming disappointment:
We are pleased to announce the Watchung Deli will be acquired on October 19th by Montclair families who have lived in town for many generations. The future owners have been working with us to keep the tradition alive and will continue to serve the community with the same standard of quality you have always come to expect from the Watchung Deli.
We would like to thank everyone for the many years of loyalty, patronage, and friendships that we will certainly miss.
Robert, Gary, Jeanne, and Maureen
Baristanet reached out to team to learn more about their decision to sell.
“We have spent countless hours and days at the deli building a business that truly has been our second home. Now it is time for us to move on to the next chapter in our lives. We appreciate the wonderful town of Montclair and all of our loyal customers, who we will miss. We are leaving our customers in good hands and wish everyone all the best,” said Robert and Jeanne.
Gary agrees. “I can’t imagine anyone making sandwiches behind that counter other than the four of us…. But it’ll be nice to know that if the new owners keep the Gary AM & the Gary 1,2,3 and the G4, at least my name will be mentioned there a couple times a day!”
His wife Maureen, while agreeing that it will be sad to not see their customers who she says they have come ot know as family, looks on the bright side. “Sleeping in is the first thing on my “to do” list!….but I’m sure that won’t last for long!”
The new owners of the deli will be a group of Montclair residents: Pete and Anne von Hoffmann, owners of Angelbeck’s Wine, along with their family, Bill & Ashley Rose, and Mark Ferrara.
“Like many people in Montclair, Anne and I have been regulars at the “Skinny Deli” for a long time so it is understandable that we would have an interest in purchasing it,” Pete von Hoffmann told Baristanet.
Pete says the groups’ intention is to maintain the deli as it is while upgrading technology or maybe some equipment.
“The history of the deli goes back to the 1920’s and the economics made sense to us. It is a fixture in the town. The biggest challenge was finding a good team to replace the present owners who clearly do a great job. Bill and Ashley Rose, my son Peter and his wife Danielle, and Mark Ferrara combined with the current employees give us confidence we can continue the standards of the Skinny Deli. Our team has been working with the present owners for about a month to make the transition as smooth as possible.” he adds.