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I grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. It was the same neighbourhood my father grew up on. I went to the same school as he did. Caused trouble on the same streets. I knew my corner storeman and the pizza shop gave me credit.

NYC’s streets felt like an abandoned movie set during the middle of the pandemic. Everything looked great but no one showed up. My hardest day was hearing that a local children’s charity was really undersupplied with food. My favourite sandwich growing up was peanut butter and jelly so instead of sitting around, my family and I did what we do best: We started making sandwiches for them – and later, for the first responders, hospitals and protesters.

Roman Grandinetti
Roman Grandinetti.

During this time, I’ve learnt that I’m as hard-headed as everyone has always said I was. If you spend a lot of time alone talking to a deli slicer, you get to know a lot more about yourself then you think!

The LES community has kind of disappeared… because a lot of people in this six block circle aren’t from around here and have left. But diners and restaurants like Dimes, Kiki’s, Cheeky’s and Regina’s kept things going. As a family, we have a plan and are going to continue to build by expanding our operating hours and introducing a new menu. We’ll do it one sandwich at a time.

If you grew up in New York, this is the old New York. This is how shit was. A small break is good. I needed it. NYC needed it. And COVID gave the new New York a good smack in the mouth.

Follow Regina @reginasgrocery