When he acquired Village Deli nine years ago, owner Bob Costello had only one goal in mind: to bring the more-than-30-year-old restaurant back to its original objective.
"Village Deli is a really busy place," Costello said. "On a typical day, we serve 800 to 1,000 people in six hours. It feels more like a New York deli than restaurant."
And like a New York deli, Village Deli's atmosphere is infused with energetic vibes and an enthusiastic wait staff to help you decide from the extensive menu.
"We want customers to have good, quick and friendly service," Costello said. "We want them to feel welcome and entertained, and we have enough college students that it's a pretty entertaining atmosphere."
The high energy of Village Deli is what makes it the unique business that it is, he said. Serving such a diverse base of customers, Costello said his business feels no competition from other popular delis and breakfast diners.
However, you shouldn't confuse Village Deli with the typical burger-and-fries joint. Boasting a menu including dolphin-safe tuna salad sandwiches, "basic" BLTs and the Jammin' Jamaican on a kaiser roll, the restaurant provides seemingly endless possibilities of taste.
Although it excels at its lunch and dinner dishes, Village Deli is best-known for its breakfast items, especially its pancakes, Costello said.
"They're nine inches 'round," he said. "They're huge and really good."
Made from scratch, the pancakes can come with either fresh fruit, homemade granola, chocolate chips, walnuts or peanut-butter chips depending on the taste of the discriminating diner.
But Costello said his favorite dish at the restaurant is The Spinach Scramble.
"It's the perfect complement to eggs," he said. "It's got Swiss cheese, fresh-cut onions, spinach and bacon. The combination is just amazing."
I've always found it difficult to find a restaurant where vegetarians can eat, but in Bloomington, there are countless options. I began my search for veg-friendly dining at Village Deli, and was more than impressed with the selection of meat-free meals.
I chose the I Dream of Falafel, or Tahini on My Mind, platter with homemade tahini and the famous Village Deli Hot Potato Chips. Stuffed into a toasted pita, the aromatic falafel was appreciably spicy but not crunchy enough for my taste. Lettuce, tomato and diced cucumbers were stuffed into the pita, making it a little messy but delicious nonetheless.
My friend chose the highly recommended Spinach Scramble, complementing the "chewy bacon and cheesiness" of the omelette. Using the accompanying toast, she created a sandwich that "took it to another level."
In addition to falafels, Costello said vegetarians can enjoy vegetarian chili and Dave's Veggie Burger Deluxe, topped with lettuce, onion, mayonnaise, guacamole and hot-pepper cheese. The Deli Melt and Vegetable Village Delight are also available for the herbivore.
"We make everything ourselves; everything is homemade." Costello said. "It's labor-intensive, but you can taste the difference with our dishes"
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