LAKE GEORGE - Out on a date 17 years ago, Kelly Najdek talked with her boyfriend Dan Elkins about how it would be fun to open a delicatessen that offered food with the same gourmet touch as was available in her childhood neighborhood of Queens.
Just a month ago, Elkins and Najdek made their dreams a reality, as they launched Bella's Delicatessen at 42 Amherst St. in Lake George Village, the site of the former Mrs. B's Deli.
Bella's Deli features a savory variety of prepared sandwiches and salads, to take out, to enjoy in their dining area or in their sidewalk cafe. This is, of course, in addition to their varied meats and cheeses ready to take home.
Their menu includes Bella's Signature Sandwiches which include the popular Deejsteak, which is Londonport roast beef, grilled onion and Havarti cheese with mayonnaise on a torpedo roll. Also a customer favorite is the Aleksander - named after their 6-year-old child - made with honey ham, maple turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato with cranberry mayo. The enterprise is named after their other child, 11-year-old Esabelle, who has the nickname "Bella."
The creative sandwiches and appetizing salads have that gourmet aspect in part because everything is prepared under the auspices of Steve Giovanni, a culinary-trained chef who collaborated with Najdek and Elkins on their recipes.
Najdek said that the goal of Bella's is to assure all meals are served up fresh, and with consistent top quality.
That's why they offer Boar's Head meats plus rye bread and sandwich rolls fresh from the Lake George Baking Co. across the street. The owners of this bakery - Buster and Debbie - have been immensely helpful in helping launch their deli, Najdek said.
Besides the standard fare of prepared potato and macaroni salads, Bella's Delicatessen features seafood salad, savory Gazpacho soup, marinated vegetable plates, fresh fruit salads and other delicacies, Najdek said.
"We prepare everything with a gourmet flair," she said.
During a recent mid-week lunch hour, Bella's Deli was conducting a brisk business, and Najdek took a minute out to explain why they were so busy.
"We put a lot of energy and enthusiasm to meeting customers needs," she said. "I love meeting people and we want not only for our business to be embraced, but we want to be a vital part of this community."
Najdek and Elkins are backing up this concept of customer service with action.
They offer free delivery of their food within several miles, and they also will deliver meals to boaters who are moored at docks in Lake George Village, they said.
"Call 668-DELI and we'll deliver your food to the local docks for free," Najdek said. "You don't even have to get off your boat."