BY TRONE DOWD
Ben’s Best in Rego Park has been a longtime staple of New York City. One look at their impressive wall of photos with celebrities, accolades and elected officials of the country’s highest offices gives visitors an idea of just how big an impact the inviting and intimate delicatessen has had on the country. As Catering Manager Marty Stein told this writer, “the store is small, but the business is big.”
Founded by Queens native Benjamin Parker, Ben’s Best has been servicing the borough of Queens for more than 70 years.
Parker started his foray in the food industry in 1945, learning the business from his father who was also in the deli business. Starting off in Manhattan, Benjamin’s first deli was located at 163rd Street and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. He later moved on to Rego Park, where the deli is located today.
Sadly, after a lifetime of serving the community, Benjamin passed away in 1984. Taking up the mantle however was his son, Jay Parker. At just 33-years-old, Jay took over the deli, becoming a third generation deli owner and staying true to all of the lessons and philosophies his father valued so much. A part of those values of course is the food. Their most famous sandwich? The Pastrami.
“Pastrami has to be smoked properly,” said Stein, who started working at Ben’s Best right after he retired. He has been with the deli for the last 33 years. “We get a choice cut of meat. We smoke it for three hours, then we steam it and spice it properly. We have a spicy recipe, and it’s a recipe that we have used for 70 years. It is successful and delicious.”
In addition to their world-class pastrami, Ben’s Best has a number of well known kosher sandwiches, dishes and baked goods that are just as popular as their signature dish. From daily prepared soups, fresh veggies and delectable desserts, including seven-layer cake, apple strudel and chocolate and cinnamon flavored rugelachs, Ben’s has proven that it is a jack of all kosher trades.
Over the years, Ben’s Best has been recognized as one of the most prominent deli’s in the country. Ben’s Best has been featured in many publications including the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Daily News and more. They have been on television shows including the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” featuring host Guy Fieri. They have even been featured in the 2015 documentary “Deli Man” , as well as the soon to be released 2017 film “The Comedians,” starring Robert De Niro, Danny Devito and Edie Falco among others.
Stein told the Queens Tribune that a big part of their popularity is their service. He and the other employees at Ben’s Best take great pride in their excellent customer service.
“It’s about personalized service,” said Stein. “You can’t get past us without us saying hello,” Stein said. “That is very important to us. Whether you’re having a cup of tea or you buy a steak. To us, communicating is key.”
“As I said before,” Stein repeated, “the store is small, but the business is big.”