News

The Taste of Quality

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | July 07, 2012

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”
William A. Foster

It was getting close to lunch time as we were driving across Connecticut’s I-84 when we noticed a billboard for REIN’S DELI (New York Style) RESTAURANT.  On a whim, we decided to turn off Exit 65 to see if we could find it.  When we travel Evie and I always enjoy trying local culinary fare and this looked like a good possibility.

After a bit of effort we found REIN’S DELI which was located at the end of a non-descript strip mall.  The crowded parking lot should have been a clue that something special was taking place inside.  The moment we walked through the door we knew this stop would be most memorable.  We joined the long line of people extending from the cashier to the door where we waited to be served.  To our left was a busy take out counter with two people serving another line of hungry customers. 

Evidence of New York City paraphernalia was everywhere.  In the middle of the restaurant was a replica of the Statue of Liberty.  Seating was divided into sections named after the five boroughs.  On one wall was a sign “REIN’S Pickle Pusses!” and under it were scores of Polaroid pictures of children of former patrons eating their delicious pickles.

Signs of special foods were everywhere.  Behind the Deli we saw listed everything from Corned Beef and Cabbage to Lox and Eggs.  On one wall was a long, narrow white board with specials of the day written in multi-colored markers under the caption “Today’s Features” and “Dessert Attractions.”

We were seated at a booth for two.  Sonja, our waitress, brought us a small bowl with three medium-sized dark green dill pickles along with our menu.

We studied the menu from cover to cover.  And as we did, we also read the poem on the placemat by Greg Rein titled “Deli Notes…A Reminiscence.” The poem told the story of Bob and Bernie who had a dream to build a deli in Connecticut that served the kind of food they had back in Jersey. The year was 1972.

They encountered many challenges as they “bet the farm and gave the dice a roll.” Their families poured themselves into the project.  Sadly, Bob died in 1988.  A fire burned the Deli to a shell in 1990 but in 1991 it reopened to even greater success. 

It was Bob whose motto has become the standard for REIN’S DELI, “The Taste of Quality is Long Remembered.” I love that motto because it captured the very essence of our entire experience. 

We really did feel as though we were in a vintage New York Deli. My eyes fell on one of the “Steamed Favorites,” the regular Corned Beef (lean first cut) on rye bread with Swiss cheese and lettuce.  On the side, I ordered REIN’s homemade potato salad.  When I told Sonja that I had never had a Corned Beef sandwich before, she couldn’t believe it.  But it was a first for me.  I only have two words to say, “Delicious indeed.” 

Evie chose the baked beans and grilled hot dog along with French Fries.  To give you an idea of what she thought of it, when she was finished she said she almost wanted to lick her plate. 

We both topped our meal off by sharing a piece of REIN’S homemade lemon meringue pie. It was a meal we will long remember.

William S. Burroughs must have had a place like REIN’S DELI in mind when he said, “You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” 

I always love encountering quality.  Sometimes we hear it in quality music.  Sometimes we see it in quality service.  Sometimes we taste it in quality food.

The taste of quality always tastes good.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to president@vfcc.edu