East Syracuse: Deli follows its Excellus customers

When downtown Syracuse thrives with people, so does Casey's Deli on Warren Street. But since 50 to 60 percent of its business comes from employees of Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, the small but expanding deli had to think "twice." It's now duplicated its lunch appeal to folks in East Syracuse, just minutes away from the future site of Excellus on Butternut Drive.

"It's gonna hurt us when they leave," said co-owner Charlie Quaglia, referring to downtown's future loss of nearly 1,000 people employed with the insurance company.

"We're going to try [to remain open] as long as we can," he said. "See how it works. I mean, we can still survive with 50 percent of our business but it's not going to be as good a store as it is now."

In the meantime, Casey's Deli bought the former JP's Deli just a couple months ago and was operating within a week of its move, Quaglia said.

"We expanded the menu a lot since we got it," he said, offering hot sandwiches and salads where JP's menu didn't. "So [customers] seem to like that. The response to that has been very good."

Reactions from Excellus employees have been positive too. East Syracuse residents who work at Excellus have been taking advantage already, using their Casey's Cards at both locations. The card offers one free sandwich after nine are purchased.

The business' appetite, though, doesn't stop at its Bridge Street location. The owners are currently negotiating with Excellus to get into its new offices at the former Agway building. The company's lease allows for a cafeteria, Quaglia said.

"It's up in the air, for sure," he said. "But we are close enough to deliver from here."

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