St. John’s-Famous Deli Clerk Opens Business

St.+John%27s-Famous+Deli+Clerk+Opens+Business

Torch Photo/Isabel Rajabazadeh

Eduardo Vilchis, former Double J worker, behind the counter at his new deli at Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, Long Island

Over the last three years, late night conversations with Eduardo Vilchis, 43, made the wait for a desired Double J, or Double J’s as students refer to it as, sandwich much more tolerable.
St. John’s students know him better as Eddy, the cashier who greeted customers at Double J Deli on Union Turnpike with a big smile and well-equipped jokes. But Double J’s suddenly is no longer filled with his personable and fun presence, leaving students to question where he went.

Eddy said he stopped working at Double J’s in late December and went on to start his own business, kicking off the new year with a fresh start.
On January 2, 2013, Eddy opened his own deli. Eddy’s Deli is located at 553 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, Long Island.

Since he only told a few people he was leaving, many St. John’s customers have been wondering what happened to their beloved Eddy. Junior Kevin Wolfring was one of them. He described Eddy’s leave of absence as a, “tragic disappearance.”

Since Double J’s workers were not aware of where Eddy is, he was hard to find. The only lead on his location was the Elmont address supplied by a former St. John’s student. After driving to the deli and seeing Eddy’s name plastered in white against the blue banner, he was found. He was ecstatic to see a St. John’s face and wishes for more students to come visit his new deli.

Eddy says he loves his new job. He makes more money and enjoys being his own boss. But, he still misses St. John’s. “I miss St. John’s,” he said. “It’s part of my life, my heart.”

He hopes to open a deli near the Queens St. John’s campus in the next three years. Nonetheless, he is upset that many of his former St. John’s customers will have already graduated by that time.

Eddy’s path to impacting the lives of St. John’s studens was a long and windy one. When Eddy was six years old, he
said his father died in Mexico from a sugar problem. Once he turned eight years old, he said he jumped from house to house trying to move closer to the border. After about seven years, he obtained a green card and came to the U.S. in 1986.

At the age of 16, Eddy was all by himself in a new country. His older brothers had families and stayed in Mexico. He said his first job in America was at the well-known deli called Cherry Valley, in Whitestone. He said he worked there for a couple of years and lived in the
basement.

Eddy said he is forever grateful to the owner for giving him a place to live. However, he is not in contact with him anymore since the man sold Cherry Valley about 10 years ago.

In 1991, Eddy said he opened his own deli in Flushing. It shut down after he had a stroke, which took three years to recover from. Doctors told him the stroke was caused from stress and being over worked. Eddy now goes to the
doctor annually to get checked up, he said.

After his stroke, he worked at different delis and then finally started working at Double J’s. While working there, Eddy was set on opening his own deli one day. He said he worked seven days a week and never missed a single day of work.

“Three years straight,” he said. “No one day over, no one day less.”

Eddy said that St. John’s students helped him get through and made his work worthwhile.

“When I was feeling sick or whatever, St. John’s comes to me and makes me happy,” he said.

Students felt the same about him.

“He is a really friendly, down- to -earth guy who was more than a sandwich salesman; he was a friend,” Junior Chris Dare said.

In 2010, Dare showed Eddy a card trick and a couple of days later Eddy named the “Magic Man” sandwich after him.

While working at Double J’s, Eddy helped create the menu that many St. John’s students enjoy to this day. He now sells the same sandwiches
at his new deli in Elmont. His 22-year-old son helps make the sandwiches at his new shop. Eddy describes it as a family
business which he hopes to keep for several years to come.

Eddy is no longer nocturnal. He said he works from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead of the night shift he worked at Double J’s. He said the atmosphere at his new deli is much different because of its clientele. He now gets more police officers as customers rather than college students. Eddy said his favorite part of working is the conversations he has with different customers.

Dare believes Double J’s has lost some of its touch when Eddy left.

“Now Double J’s is only as good as the sandwiches are,” he said.