Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Months after the well-known PMP Deli had to close its doors because of a fire in the same building, the owner said his store will stay closed.
After 43 years, two locations and thousands of orders of City Chicken sold, the PMP Deli will not be reopening.
"It came to a point I can't reopen. I'm very, very, sorry and I'm hurting a lot about it," said owner Pete Zalaffi.
Zalaffi operated the deli for more than 40 years. The Johnson City place is best known for its selection of quality deli meats and sandwiches.
The news comes as a shock to some of his neighbors and friends.
"It's a devastating loss that he's closing," said neighbor Gloria McCormick. "It almost makes me want to start crying."
"We've always gone there a lot for lunches and things like that," said Veterinarian Steve Holowinski. "And he's just been a terrific neighbor and I'm going to miss him."
It’s an unfortunate reality, not only for his loyal customers, but for Zalaffi himself.
"I'm very, very, sorry I had to close," he said. "It wasn't my choice- it was the doctor's choice and a few other peoples'."
Zalaffi took a hit when water damage from the fire in the building forced them to close in January. Since then, his declining health has made the business unable to reopen.
"Then I had a stroke, that was another part of it, and I turned 80 years old," Zalaffi said, "my eyes are bothering me and I got arthritis, so my body's shot."
His reputation for quality deli meats and sandwiches will be hard to beat.
"I would come once a week and Pete said 'you come every week for the wonderful submarine sandwich,'" McCormick said. "I really enjoyed those sandwiches."
"Sometimes we venture over there for lunch and the City Chicken, you can't do without," said chiropractic assistant Beth Harendez.
"Everybody makes City Chicken in town but I think mine's the best." Zalaffi said. "I'm partial."
His food won't be the only thing the town will miss, like Zalaffi's warm greeting each time an order is up.
Looking back, Zalaffi said he had a successful career and will miss all of his loyal customers.
After the fire, Zalaffi was able to save a lot of the hockey memorabilia he had at the store.
He said the memorabilia will now be kept at his home in Johnson City.