The 38-year-old restaurateur, an Arlington native who lives in Richmond, has been working in restaurants since he was 12. Tsiptsis co-owns the Bar Pilar and hip Café Saint-Ex, two Washington, D.C., restaurants, where he also tends bar.
He and a group of friends decided to purchase the New York Deli because they saw vast potential in Richmond and specifically Carytown which is, Tsiptsis adds, so much cooler than chain-store-infested Georgetown.
The new New York Deli which will get a new name, too "is going to be exactly what Carytown needs," Tsiptsis says. It will become a full-fledged restaurant, open daily and later than most Carytown businesses. He wants to welcome old-time regulars as well as a younger crowd, he says, and "the place is going to be beautiful."
The deli's wood paneling, linoleum floors and deli cases don't seem like much to work with, but Tsiptsis is unfazed. The space housing Café Saint-Ex was "as bad as the New York Deli was," he says, until the owners installed the marble floors, cherry-wood bar and aviation-themed artwork.
Tsiptsis has invited the deli's employees, some of whom have worked there for more than a decade, to return when it reopens. Renovations begin Sept. 1. In the meantime, Tsiptsis says he plans to seriously research the origins of the Sailor sandwich, to determine whether it properly ought to be made with knockwurst or kosher hot dogs. "Maybe we'll have it both ways," he says. Melissa Scott Sinclair
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