Strategically scheduling the meeting around lunch time, I was delighted to be back at Maria’s Deli – a staple during our campaign in 2013. Leading up to the last provincial election my campaign office was located across the street from this amazing deli on Shelbourne and Feltham and I credit them with keeping my team well fed and happy throughout every long, busy day. A family focused business, Maria’s Deli was started in 1977 by Maria Pereria and her husband Floyd. Though they both immigrated to Canada from Sao Miguel Portugal, Maria and Floyd didn’t meet until they signed up for the same English class at Vic High.
Their shop has been in the same location for 38 years and though it is now largely run by their daughter Susan Coombs, it hasn’t changed much. When I arrived Susan was behind the counter cheerfully helping an older customer. Switching between speaking English and Portuguese she says, “She has been coming here as long as I can remember!” Her parents opened the deli the year after she was born and she spent much of her childhood here helping out and visiting with customers, officially starting to work for them when she was 14.
Now Susan works there with her own daughter, who just finished high school. “The people are the most enjoyable part of working here,” they both agree. It shows too, the place is bustling with people greeting one another and chatting as they shop. Two construction workers come in to get lunch, “I’ve been coming here for 20 years!” one of them tells me even though he looks like he’s hardly 30. He helps another customer read the label on a tin of cookies as Susan makes their sandwiches, slicing their choice of meat and cheese from the huge selection in front of them. Amazingly, their lunch costs less than $5.00. There are fridges stacked with 10 kilo rounds of cheese and an incredible variety of olive oil, vinegar, pasta, and meat. A baker from Esquimalt walks in carrying a tray of Portuguese buns on her shoulder, she delivers buns to Maria’s Deli nearly every day, she says. Today she is dropping off 20 dozen.
Maria’s Deli is a wonderful mainstay in this community, feeding generations of families – and campaign teams lucky enough to work nearby.
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