Michael’s Deli, owned by Rudy Madina, is at 628 S. Virginia St. The place has developed quite a following among downtown businesspeople and office workers. The menu, including the Rudy sandwich (hot corned beef, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing), can be found at www.michaelsdeli-reno.com.
How long have you been in business here?
Almost eight years.
Did it start well?
It started real slow. Then we started building up clientele.
When have been your best times?
The last two years.
Really? The recession hasn’t hurt you at all?
How did you get your start?
When I moved to Reno in 1990, I got the idea to open a deli. No money at all, so I started planning since the beginning. I worked in two jobs and started saving money.
Where were the two jobs?
I was working for Newman’s [Deli on California Avenue, about a block from Michael’s] and the Flamingo. … I was cooking at the Top of the Flamingo.
Those served as training?
No, I used to work in L.A. at a deli. I worked for Greenblatt’s on Sunset Boulevard and for Mort’s Deli.
So you’re saving money in Reno.
To open my own business.
And you just moved across the street from Newman’s?
Well, this used to be Blimpie’s, and I saw this business for sale, so I got the guy to give me a deal on this, and he did it.
How did Newman’s react when you told them?
Well, they never talked to me again. They never came in.
Have you ever gone there?
No, no. I always come here, and I stay all day
What brought you to Reno?
I have relatives here. I have my cousins here, my brother.
Where were you raised?
What is your biggest complaint?
People say, “I don’t understand your English.”
How did you learn English?
I went to Texas in 1977. I was cooking at a Mexican restaurant. Then I moved to Los Angeles in 1983. My sister lived there. I learned English by talking to people. I picked it up.
Are you glad you moved to Reno?
Yes, I’m very happy here. I met you here so I’m very happy here.
You get a lot of big names, VIPs in here.
Everybody’s a VIP here [laughs].
How long do you plan to keep working?
Well, my youngest kid is only 7 so I’m going to be working for a long time.
Who is Michael?
What’s the appeal of St. Michael?
I always pray to Michael. He hears me.