Businessmen generate deals while indulging in delicatessen delights. Parents tote their small children in after the main lunch rush. Regular customers saunter in, knowing what they’re going to order long before they reach the counter.
This is the rhythm of a day at the Miracle Mile Delicatessen in the Camelback Colonnade, the newest of four locations of the restaurant, started in 1952 by the late Jack Grodzinsky.
Grodzinsky’s daughter, Jill Garcia, and her husband, George, own this Miracle Mile Delicatessen, which opened in February, as well two others at Chris-Town Mall and Arrowhead Towne Center.
Jill’s sister and brother-in-law, Ellen and Craig Dean, own a fourth Miracle Mile at Park Central Mall. Jill’s earliest memory of working in her father’s restaurant is standing on milk crates filling creamers when she was 5 or 6 years old. By the time she was 10, she was helping her father with catering.
Grodzinsky had opened the first Miracle Mile on 16th Street and McDowell Road; which closed in 1964. Meanwhile, in 1958, he opened the Park Central Mall store, followed by the Chris-Town store in 1960.
The Garcias opened at Arrowhead in 1998.
One recollection that sticks out in Jill Garcia’s mind from her father’s store at Chris-Town Mall is the holiday seasons, when the number of party tray orders increased. She remembers her parents’ friends coming to help prepare party trays after the store closed for the day.
“We would use all the tables in the restaurant to make trays because we had no space to make them (in the back),” Jill says. “Now we have a full catering crew” and a separate room to assemble party trays, she says.
George was a dishwasher at the Chris-Town location when he was 15 and met Jill, then 12. They worked together for years and, in their mid-20s, started dating. They married a year later.
Jill works at the Camelback Colonnade store and George is at Chris-Town. Managers handle their Arrowhead store.
“This is the first time since we’ve been married – in 19 years – that we’ve been at separate stores,” Jill says. “This is a whole adjustment for us in that respect as well because we’ve always, always worked together.
“So we call each other 10 or 20 times a day. … We’re really used to being together all the time,” she says.
Their 17-year-old son, Josh, a Central High School senior, works in the restaurant during busy seasons and when he has extra time.
Customers at the Garcias’ three stores consume some 10,000 pounds of pastrami per month, George says. The Colonnade store serves more than 1,000 customers each day, while each the two other stores averages 400-600 customers a day.
The Colonnade store, which is nearly 7,000 square feet and seats 226 customers, has three sections. On one side of the store is a counter for take-out orders. In the middle is the main, cafeteria-style line with selections of hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, side dishes and desserts.
An additional line on the far side of the store, which offers the same selections as the main line, opens for the lunch crowd.
Jill’s cousin Suzie Goldstein and her husband, Marvin, also help with the deli. “Without their involvement in the business, we probably would not have expanded,” Jill says. “There’s no way the two of us could have taken on this much.”
Although the couple have considered opening additional stores, they have no plans to create a franchise. “It has always been in the family, it will always stay in the family,” George says.
“Very few family businesses survive over the years,” George says. “What my father-in-law, Jack, started many, many years ago still works in this day and age. His foresight in seeing this was tremendous.”
This article first appeared in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.