The question of whether favorites from the menu at Miller's Deli in Pikesville would travel to the eatery's new downtown Towson location was answered when the shop opened last week.
“I had a couple people come in and give us a hug because we’re in the area now,” manager Cory Harris, 35, said, adding that all the popular items would be offered locally, too. “They know Miller’s. They know the corned beef; they know the hot dogs — that’s what we’re famous for. It just gives a different variety to the area.”
With its traditional deli-type food, the store provides variety for the workday population in Towson who are looking for a new lunch spot, owners said. However, the menu is pared down from the Pikesville location's — co-owner Mark Neumann said there likely wasn't a market for knishes and stuffed cabbage like there is at the original spot on Greenspring Avenue.
But many of the staples, such as brisket, corned beef and the deli's popular breakfast menu, are being offered at the Towson location.
"We always wanted to expand the brand," co-owner Jeff Karlin, who purchased Miller's with Neumann in April 2010, said. "We had a feeling there wasn't a lot of competition outside of the Pikesville area, so to speak."
Harris, who was promoted to manager of the new location after 10 years as a cook at the Pikesville location, said they regularly undergo the tedious hours-long process to make corned beef in the store.
"You don't see too many people doing corned beef, real corned beef," Harris said. "We cook our own corned beef from scratch. We cook our brisket from scratch. A lot of people don't do that — they buy prepackaged — so it gives them a different taste."
To give people a taste of the fare, Karlin said he passes out samples at lunchtime just as he did on Wednesday.
"I was very well received," said Karlin, of Pikesville, who worked at the deli before he and Neumann bought the business. "What's really interesting to me is the name recognition. I find that people are familiar with our name, even though we're just in Pikesville."
The Miller's Deli in Pikesville is in a shopping center with a large parking lot, making the deli accessible to customers from a wide area, owners said. In Towson, Karlin, Neumann and Harris hope to draw in county employees, as well as those who work in Towson's office buildings who mostly walk to get lunch.
"We are canvassing the buildings, one at a time, with menus," Karlin said. "Between walk-in carry-out, dine-in and catering, we think we have a really strong customer base" in Towson.
Miller's replaces another deli, Buddy Maratta's, at 3 W. Chesapeake Ave. Within a week of Buddy Maratta's closing, Karlin said the lease for Miller's Deli was signed.
"All we had to do was go in, clean up a little bit, and lay some beautiful wood flooring down," Karlin said. "It was an easy turnaround."
Karlin and Harris said their hope is to establish a following at the Towson location that mirrors the deli's loyal customers in Pikesville.
People in Towson "haven't ventured out to Pikesville," Harris said, "so we've got to bring it to them."