by Yael Goldman
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Spring Street Deli is the ultimate local business.
On any given day, especially week-days at lunchtime, locals and regulars wait in line at 132 Spring Street for a taste of what this East side treasure has been serving up since 1996.
Anthony Gargano and Brian Brumley, 1992 and 1991 Saratoga Springs High School grads, are heading into their 15th year in business on December 5. Their deli and pizzeria is well-known for a varied menu that yields everything from tacos and chicken wings to racing-inspired sandwiches, piled-high pizzas, delicious salads and homemade soups. It's all made from scratch, including their dressings and sauces which certainly deserve mention.
The story of how this deli, and its oft-explored menu, came to be is both endearing and impressive.
Gargano and Brumley grew up in Geyser Crest; they played on the same sports teams, they worked in local restaurants and at the race track together, and in 1996 became business partners.
"We wanted to open a gourmet deli, and we wanted to do everything here: our own soups, dressings - nothing processed," said Gargano.
"It was just about [making] the food we enjoyed," Brumley said, explaining why tacos were part of the original plan.
But the pair needed a location before they could start serving their favorite foods. Gargano and Brumley, then 22 and 23 years old, originally settled on a storefront near Jefferson Terrace, a deal that didn't work out. Although unfortunate at the time, that initial misstep was, in retrospect, the best thing that could have happened to them.
Their lawyer knew George Lega, the gentleman who owned 132 Spring Street, and scheduled a meeting.
"We showed up on our mountain bikes wearing baseball caps, and Lega yelled at us," said Brumley, explaining that the landlord was less than impressed with their youthful and casual approach.
Somehow the hopeful restaurateurs scored a second chance.
"We showed up the next day and [we were] professional," Brumley said. "We found out that [Lega] is hands-down the best guy. He gave two kids the opportunity to open a business, and we are truly grateful."
With the "ideal" location, Gargano and Brumley moved forward to create the original recipes they had dreamed of, collaborating with classmate and classically trained chef Rob Cone (who now owns the Turf Club on Union Ave.)
"Rob Cone and Brian's parents helped us tremendously," Gargano said. "Plus, we knew everyone here in Saratoga Springs; we had a huge following and a lot of friends supported us."
Spring Street Deli quickly became a popular hotspot, especially in 1998 when the young owners added specialty pizzas to their menu, but the first three years were tough - "We put everything back into the business," Gargano said.
Thankfully, all of their hard work paid off, and Spring Street Deli continues to grow.
As natives and business owners, Gargano and Brumley have matured with their community. They have added new dishes, tried new recipes and established close relationships with their customers, including Lega who became a regular (the Four Star Dave, a Reuben sandwich, was his "usual"). The catering side of the business has become exceedingly popular in recent years, and the owners have plans to expand it, hopefully by opening a separate location in the near future.
Now, 15 years later, they are established and in a more "comfortable" place, which gives Gargano and Brumley the freedom to look toward the future and spend time with their families, which, at no surprise, they do together.
Both Spa City natives married Saratoga Springs High School graduates. Gargano and his wife Kelly have a 20-month-old daughter named Chloe. Brumley and his wife Melissa, a lifelong friend, have two children, an 18-month-old son Nicholas and a 4-month-old daughter Sarah.
The Spring Street Deli family also includes the staff. Many of the employees grew up with Gargano and Brumley in Geyser Crest and have young children. Together, they are raising their families on Spring Street.
"We all grew up together in a town we love," Gargano said.
"I couldn't imagine being anywhere else - there's no place like Saratoga," Brumley said.
For more information about Spring Street Deli, visit www.springstreetdeli.net or call (518) 584-0994.