When a visitor enters M&R Delicatessen in Mount Kisco, not only are they going to get a delicious breakfast, lunch or snack but it’s as though they’re transported to a different era or neighborhood.
That makes sense because brothers Matt and Ray Henley, celebrated 40 years in Mount Kisco last month. They have operated out of the same storefront at 135 E. Main St. since they relocated from Bronxville after a devastating fire seemingly wiped out the family business.
“It’s just the friendships with the customers, the town,” Ray Henley said. “You go anywhere in town, ‘Oh, M&R, M&R.’ They may not know your name but they’ll say M&R. It’s all good. You feel good.”
But the bread and butter behind the brothers’ success isn’t just the over-the-counter schmoozing. M&R Delicatessen serves some great food with lightning-quick service.
Matt Henley said the store, which opens by 6 a.m. six mornings a week to catch the first wave of commuters, goes through a vast amount of chicken. The cutlets and chicken parmigiana are popular as are most of the chicken dishes, he said.
They make a mouth-watering pastrami-corned beef Reuben, something that not every deli can do well – or do at all.
“We do what like a restaurant would do. If you ever had our lasagna, it’s the best lasagna you’ll have anywhere,” Matt Henley said without sounding like he’s boasting.
In addition to a full line of cold cuts, there are a variety of entrees and a wide range of salads, along with cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad. Like many delis there are a wide assortment of beverages, chips and goodies.
Then there are all the breakfast items, including the egg sandwiches, bacon and bagels and coffee, so M& R does a brisk morning business.
The brothers – Ray is 15 months older – were virtually born into the deli business while growing up in Yonkers. Their father worked as a clerk in another Bronxville store when he decided to go out on his own when the boys were seven and eight years old.
The store was on Palmer Avenue near St. Lawrence Hospital and Matt and Ray would help out on weekends and in the summer, then took over the business when their father died in 1973.
“He had passed away and we ended up just staying there,” Matt said. “(Ray) had just come out of college, I was working there and we just kept the business going.”
They kept it going until Nov. 20, 1978, when the entire building went up in flames. Unable to find a suitable location in Bronxville, Matt said he had a neighbor who had a business in Mount Kisco.
They agreed to the lease at 135 E. Main St. on Apr. 2, 1979, and have been serving the village for the last 40 years.
Ray, who along with his brother lives in Somers, said it didn’t take long to get accustomed to Mount Kisco.
“The town itself is nice,” he said. “All the people are nice. It’s become like one big family. People come back with their little kids and they have little kids.”
The brothers credit the success of their operation to three longtime employees – their chef Reynaldo Romero and Carol Amuso and Joe Gardella behind the counter. They said Carol and Joe have plenty of fans.
“We’ve been here a long time. We know a lot of people,” Amuso said. “I live in the town, so I know a lot of the town people, but that wouldn’t even matter because if you didn’t live in town, you’d know everybody. I enjoy coming to work, I have to say.
Matt and Ray said they don’t know how long they’ll continue to get up before dawn every morning but it’s been a rewarding life.
“Whatever you do, you have that self-satisfaction,” Matt said. “Doing it 40 years, it’s like routine. But it’s still rewarding. We don’t really know anything else.”