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Dominick's Deli celebrates 40 years of family business

Avalon Hester

Village News Intern

Dominick's Delicatessen celebrated their 40th anniversary Thursday with retro prices, community and two generations behind the counter. The beloved deli came into Fallbrook in 1883 after historic El Niño winds blew them out of Santa Cruz and into Pepper Tree Village on South Mission. Ever since, Dominick's has been a Fallbrook institution, serving up delicious sandwiches, salads and home cooked dinners – all made with traditional Italian recipes.

The sandwich shop has been family owned and operated for three generations – spanning from Dominick Grossi Sr., to Dominick Grossi III. Dominick Jr. remembers opening the deli with his parents, "When we first opened in Santa Cruz, a sandwich cost $1.75." Now a full size sub runs around $12.60, filled with everything from meatballs to Cotto Salame and avocado, each with lettuce, tomato, mayo, onion, pickles and pepperoncinis.

Almost everything at Dominick's is made in house, and most of the recipes were passed down from Dominick Jr.'s mother and grandmother. "My mother would go to the grocery store and buy 26 tiny cans of Contadina tomato paste for the meatballs, she wouldn't use the larger cans."

Their menu has remained largely the same throughout the years, and being partners with family has its ups and downs, "If you've ever seen the TV show "The Bear," you know, especially in an Italian family."

However, 40 years later, the memories of three generations make it all worthwhile. Dominick Jr. and Dominick III looked back on the years together.

Dominick Jr. recalled the little things, "My wife used to own a gift shop next door and the kids would go between the back entrances, asking me for cheesy bread and garlic bread, those were good memories."

Dominick III, who began working behind the counter when he was 16, taking over the business when his father retired last year, remembered what it was like to operate the business at the beginning of the pandemic. "We had the chairs stacked, and we started selling flour, eggs, and milk."

They both recalled Dominick Sr., who retired in 1996 and came in for a sandwich almost everyday after golfing, stopping by to hang out with customers until he passed.

What's meant the most to the Grossi family is the relationship they have with the community of Fallbrook. For decades, local highschoolers have looked forward to getting their first job at Dominick's. "You get to be a good boss," said Dominick Jr. "I just hired a young man whose mother got her first job here when she was in highschool, and now it's his first job too."

There are 4 teachers currently at the highschool that put themselves through college at Dominick's and their manager, Dana Fields, has worked there for 35 years. Fallbrook local Lindsay Promack, celebrating the 40th anniversary by trying Dominick Jr.'s favorite sandwich, the #2 with coppocola, mortadella and provolone, spoke about the role the deli has played in her life.

"I grew up in Fallbrook and Dominick's was one of the things I missed most when I went to college. Now my kids are hooked too." Her three children responded with a double thumbs up. "They treat their customers like family. It's good people, good food and good prices."

For Dominick III, who worked for a few years as a biology teacher before returning to the family business, being an independently run local business has been a privilege. "It's about doing it for yourself and continuing the legacy." When his dad offered him the business upon retiring, there was no question, "You don't kill the golden goose."

The 40th anniversary is just another milestone in what the Grossis hope will be an even longer legacy. "We'll keep making sandwiches if people keep eating them," said Dominick III. "Here's to 40 more."

 

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