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Rainbow Deli in the news

by Michael Schimenti
Tue, Sep 20th 2011 10:43 am


Sammi Saunter, Part VII: Rainbow Deli


by BuffaloDotCom  •  May 26, 2011 @ 4:59pm

With Tim Hortons and Subways popping up all over downtown, it's not easy for small delis to thrive.  Major chains can charge lower prices, stay open longer and offer a wider selection.  When it comes to quality, though, the chain retailers often fall short.

At Rainbow Deli, housed just inside the Brisbane Building south of Lafayette Square, there's a strong sense of perseverance and customer loyalty.  Patrons bustle in quickly, smile and chat with "Dar"—owner Darlynn Hoy, who seemingly knows each by name—before ordering a soup, salad or sandwich.  There's a spacious eating area for those who want to mingle, and some do, as many customers visit the Brisbane Building solely for a bite at Rainbow Deli.

Like many of the small locally-owned delis we've visited, Rainbow Deli stresses the value of freshness and daily preparation.  For example, Hoy picks out her own produce from Sunset Fruit and Vegetable Co. at the Clinton Bailey Farmers Market, then chops it fresh each day; she wrinkles her nose at bagged veggies.  Rainbow Deli's meat comes from Willowbrook Farms, another local distributor. 

Ben T. ventured in well after the lunch rush; the deli stays open until 4 p.m., unlike most of the other lunch-only spots that serve food until 2:30 or 3.  The turkey club sub (pictured) sounded wonderful ($7.49 for a full, $5.52 for a half).  Two things stood out: the finely chopped romaine lettuce had serious flavor and the lightly-toasted sesame sub roll was a delightful addition.  Hoy stressed romaine's health value—it's loaded with vitamins and minerals—and it simply boasts more flavor than its cheaper rivals iceberg and green leaf. 

The deli's signature isn't the sandwiches, though; it's the salads.  Customers can choose eight fresh vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, sliced carrots, onions, celery, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, cucumbers and other toppings like croutons and sunflower seeds.  A small salad runs for $4.60, while a "huge" salad costs $6.07.  If you're unnerved by the prices, Rainbow Deli also offers a daily special of a "half" cold sub, chips and a 22 oz. drink for $5.52—that's the equivalent of Subway, but with much higher quality.

Simply put, the freshness of the food and the cheerful, quick service outweigh the higher-than-average prices.  Once Lafayette Hotel is refurbished and inhabited, expect Rainbow Deli to become an even more popular destination.


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