R. T. Smith’s Deli – Bringing A Little New York to Downtown

Tracey Horacek, a Long Island, New York native, and her husband Robert initially came to the Roanoke area seven years ago to work with a Boar’s Head distributor. Eventually, they decided to open a deli of their own. Thus was born R. T. Smith’s Fine Delicatessen.

Located at 10 East Campbell Avenue in downtown Roanoke, the deli is named after Tracey’s husband, Tracey herself, and their business partner, Craig Smith. It opened for business last December.  “I was raised in a German deli,” Tracey explained, and “it was the custom – to open up a deli. That’s what my grandfather did and my Dad did, and then they both worked with Boar’s Head.” Tracey’s husband and Craig Smith also worked with Boar’s Head.

Tracey feels the Campbell Avenue location is great for a deli;  “During the lunch crowd we get a lot of people that are walking by and still, to this day, people will come in and say, ‘When did you open?  When did you get here?’”

According to Tracey the reason they opened is, “We missed the food . . .  Being from up north and meeting people from down here – we just decided that we should open a deli.”

Tracey said that operating a successful deli comes down to sandwiches and fresh salads.  “But,” she added, “we also do a hot lunch and fresh soup every day. We can make your sandwiches to take home, or you can buy your own lunch meat to make your own sandwiches.”

Since opening people from all over the area have patronized R. T. Smith’s— including those who have stopped by the Visitor Center.  “We get a great variety of people,” said Tracey, “and the best thing . . . is we get to talk to our customers.  It’s a very personal service. Being a family business, we ask [people] about their families;  they ask about our families.  Our children are here on the weekends helping [out].”

As to what brings people back to their deli, Tracey pointed to the quality of the food they serve.  “We offer quality meats and cheeses with the Boar’s Head brand and macaroni, potato salad and cole slaw that we make fresh.  We bring in great lettuces so our Chef Salads and our Caesar Salads are always the finest quality. When you come in, we like to feed you like we would feed our own family.”

Currently the busiest time of day for the deli is lunch.  Tracey added that they also have people who come down to the market on weekends. “They’ll come in [with] their fresh bread that they got at one of the two bakeries locally, and they’ll buy their cold cuts.”

As for the breakfast crowd, Tracey said business is slow but growing. One of the offerings they have for breakfast is what she described as “a great New York style egg sandwich on a Kaiser Roll. And we bring in fresh bagels from Roanoke Bagel every morning.”

Tracey said they’re taking things one day at a time.  “We’d love to see more people come in to buy their fresh cold cuts in the afternoon and on weekends, to make lunches for the kids at school. We sell everything fresh. When you come in, we make your sandwich fresh.  We slice the meat right there.”  Sounds just like a New York deli.

Business hours at R. T. Smith’s Delicatessen are from 7 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday and 9 am to 3 pm Saturday. For further information visit the R. T. Smith delicatessen website at rtsmithsdeli.weebly.com.

by  Melvin E. Matthews, Jr.