An interview with Ralph Menotti, co-owner of Halsted Street Deli / Yogen Fruz in Vernon Hills.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Address: 1260 Milwaukee Ave. Suite 400, Vernon Hills in the Vernon Hills Town Center.
Owners: Ralph Menotti and Dave Nelson
When business opened: Aug. 30, 2012
Web address: Website is being developed
A: Halsted Street Deli serves homemade soups, chilis, chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad and many other items daily. We also offer low-carb wraps, gluten free breads, fresh baked breads, pretzel rolls and focaccia bread choices. All our deli meats are Boars Head, a top-rated line within the deli meat industry. We also offer Mannys corned beef from Chicago and pastrami and potato pancakes. All our meats, soups and chilies can be purchased to be taken home. Catering is available for any occasion. Yogen Fruz is a healthy yogurt choice. Our self-serve flavors are low in fat, we have 42 different toppings to choose from. What sets us apart from other self-serve yogurt stores is our custom blending. Fresh fruit protein shakes and Froyo shakes are popular. The probiotic low fat yogurt bars blended with our fresh fruits are one of the most refreshing desserts you will find. They are very healthy for you as well.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: Dave and I felt that the area needed a true deli with fair pricing, a chance to talk with the owners everyday, be greeted with a personal welcome and to serve freshly made choices like the neighborhood delis in the city. We also knew that Yogen Fruz would be the perfect partner store. They complement each other very well.
Q: What has been the biggest obstacle in starting the business?
A: The biggest obstacle for us was the build out process. Many different permit issues, building issues and equipment issues to overcome.
Q: What do you enjoy most about running the business?
A: Our biggest enjoyment is dealing with the public every day, it's a job I personally can't wait to wake up for. We offer 10 percent discount in both stores to any students up until 4 p.m. every weekday. We have many regular high school students already.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: I have always wanted to open a small deli, this has been a dream since I was young going into our neighborhood deli with my parents.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I think about what changes we can make to make the experience of every one of our customers the best it can be both at Halsted and Yogen Fruz. We offer a 10 for 10 deal every evening. After 4 p.m. every night our customers are offered 10 percent off any Yogen Fruz choice with every $10 spent at Halsted Street.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: The biggest tip I could give is to be prepared financially. There are many hidden costs in starting a small business. Also, don't hold back when it comes to offering the best quality possible to your customers. That's what will keep them coming back.
-- Kim Mikus
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