Little Lilly’s Island Deli celebrates 13 years of feeding islanders
To Robin Lilly, owner of Little Lilly’s Island Deli, her time here has gone by quickly. “I remember when I first bought the deli,” said Lilly, “they all called us the kids. We were the newbies and I felt like we were going to be the ‘newbies’ forever, because everyone had been here for so long and now I’ve been here a long time.”
Little Lilly’s Island Deli, where happy people make happy sandwiches, celebrated year 13 on Feb. 2.
Lilly says of her brother Matt Romejko, who worked with her at the deli, that he’s missed but she’s happy for him in his new career and life path. As far as what’s changed, Lilly said the summers are slow but not as slow as they once were.
“They’re not as scary as they used to be,” said Lilly, noting that there’s also a slightly younger demographic these days.
Lilly, who resided on the island only two years before buying the deli, said she wanted to work and live on the island because it’s one of the best things you can strive for.
“I can go for weeks at a time without ever leaving,” said Lilly. “It’s very cool to be able to say that you work and live on an island.”
When she’s not running the deli Lilly said she’s likely to be at a live music concert, adding that music just makes everything better and sets a nice tone.
Lilly said she’s very thankful for the support she’s received from fellow islanders and also for the support she sees islanders give freely to one another. Through the pandemic, Lilly said customers just kept giving, as they would come in repeatedly giving donations to pay it forward to other islanders who possibly were out of work and couldn’t afford a meal.
“My customers have been so loyal, so generous and so consistent,” said Lilly. “We had some customers who ate here every day through the pandemic, just to support us, even when it was only take-out, just to make sure we stayed afloat.”
Going to take-out only, she said, was an easy transition for them as they are designed to do that already. Having the same customers, she said, keeps it consistent and makes it easy to know what people expect when they walk through the door.
“That’s kind of big,” said Lilly. “We all try to remember people’s names and who likes pickles or mayonnaise and who likes lemon in their tea — we just try to make it a friendly place. People will sometimes come here by themselves, and they make friends.”
She’s also thankful for her small staff, saying it’s easy to keep them employed.
“Through the years I’ve been very lucky with my staff. I had my brother here for about eight years,” said Lilly. “Sierra worked here before,” she said of current and former employee Sierra Wilder. “She took a little break and then came back when my brother left, and took over his position — the same thing for Maritza,” she said of Maritza Garcia. “She worked here years ago when I first opened. She was pregnant and left to have her kids and take care of her family, then when she decided she wanted to come back to work this was the first place she came, and I was so excited to have her back.
“I think that having a consistent staff for so many years and having people who care about the business as much as I do is really something that helps me go — it’s key.”