The season of the hot dog

Carmela's Deli serves up New York classics

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  • Photos by Vicki Botta Sandwich.

  • Frank, a regular customer and Chris with one of their oversized sandwiches.

  • Christopher Snyder and Carmela Healey.

Carmela's Deli

416 Rt 6 & 209
Milford, Pa.

The long cold winter is finally behind us and as the warm weather finally begins to become a reality it is the start of hot dog season.

Typically placards announcing hotdogs up ahead at a roadside stand are a norm in New York, not so in Milford or Matamoras. In fact the search for that elusive hot dog in Milford might have drawn you to a place known as Buscos which went out of business five years ago.

Frank, a steady customer at Carmela's Deli which sits in a strip mall on Rt. 209 and Rt. 6 between Robert's Lane and Kittatiny Campgrounds in Milford said that it used to only sell hot dogs and fries — that was their specialty. He was surprised it stayed in business as long as it did.

“Hot Dogs have gotten a bad rap,” said Michele Jaffe, an artist and member of the Artery Artist Co-op who explains that people are conscious of the salt, nitrates and fat content, “but there is nothing like it, it is still delectible and a great food.”

She reminisces about a place on New Jersey Ave. in Port Jervis just past the Old Erie near the old train station called Texas Lunch which was opened in the '40's by a Greek man and is now owned by Georgie and Christopher Lutfy for the past year and a half.

“Their father Dick Lutfy once owned the Tom Quick and before him, my brother-in-law Bob Phillips owned it.”

She said that she remembered growing up in the area and that most people who came back to the area would stop at the Texas Lunch for hot dogs first before heading to their parent's house. She remembers the owner of the establishment before the Lutfy's took it over lining up hotdogs along his arm and putting all the sauces and toppings on with the other hand before serving them all.

The only other place that she thought would have great hot dogs near Milford was at the location of Carmela's Deli, but Christopher Snyder, Carmela's brother said they only serve Boar's Head foot-long hot dogs which he says are the kind you get at a ball game. He said that the place that was in the location of the deli once served hot dogs but that was four and a half years ago.

“We may not specialize in hotdogs, but we know all our customers by name,” said Christopher who named all of their Brooklyn style sandwiches such as the “Donnie Brasco”, “The Bronx Tale”, “The Venezia” and “The Italian Stallion” and whose sister Carmela cooks all of the food “like she was making it for her family.”

Carmela says she sometimes feels more like a bartender than a deli owner because of the way her customers talk to her.

“We're here to make money, but we get to know our customers very well.”

“Once a young Irish woman came in and it was obvious that she was not happy and in fact very sad. I went in the back room and found a station on the radio that played Celtic music and it cheered her up,” said Christopher, “the following week she came in and put a $12 tip in the can and when I argued that that was a lot of money to put in the can, she said she “was going through a really hard time and she appreciated that I cared enough to try to cheer her up with the music.”

Carmela's Deli also serves a specially discounted breakfast to students who can get two eggs and cheese on a roll, with a choice of ham, bacon or sausage for $2 and upgrade to a bagel for .50 more.

“It's the same breakfast we charge adults $3.50 for but because some of the students don't often get enough to eat at home, we make it affordable for them to have a good breakfast.”

They prove they know the name of the next customer, Frank, who quickly says, "Their food is very good here,” and “I like the variety.”

Carmela says that in addition to their family quality and Brooklyn style food, they bring the “real Italian Ices up from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.”

Christopher adds that when people leave the city to explore the beautiful area near the Delaware, they don't necessarily want to leave the kind of food that reminds them of home behind. They can stop in and enjoy a part of home while they are away.

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