When Joe Hinckley and Beverly Jajer first saw the property at 28 Merryall Road in New Milford, the couple knew it would take a lot of work to reopen it as a market and delicatessen.
Yet they weren't deterred.
The property had been foreclosed on some three years before and the interior completely gutted except for the overhead venting, Mr. Hinckley said.
Friends pitched in with plumbing, electrical and finished carpentry work.
Trips were made to Naugatuck and Wallingford looking for deals on equipment, even to New Jersey.
Then, on Memorial Day weekend, the reward for o their team's labor came to fruition when the couple opened the doors of their new business -- The Merryall Market and Deli.
Since that day, Ms. Jajer estimates more than 300 "Merryall Specials" have been sold -- a hard roll or grinder sandwich of Boar's Head ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni and more.
"People come in, look around, say I'll take a Merryall Special. It's catching on," said Mr. Hinckley, with a smile.
Whether making batches of deli salads or baking peach cobbler or blueberry muffins, Ms. Jajer and her helper, Beverly Colvin, are on the go from early morning to evening, seven days a week.
Ms. Jajer manages the market and deli, as well as pitching in with the cooking. With five years' deli experience at Midway Market, she was ready to take on the responsibilities of her own business, she said.
"All my distributors and retail dealers have helped us get going," she said. "Everybody pitched in. Either I knew someone with a trade we needed or Joe did. We want to thank everybody who helped us."
A full breakfast menu lists French toast, pancakes and egg and cheese sandwiches with ham, bacon or sausage. Lunch specials come either hot or cold.
The sausage and pepper grinders are in big demand at supper time, Mr. Hinckley said. The coffee club offers a deal stating `buy 10 cups, get one free.'
"I've been a carpenter for 25 years in this area but since construction slowed down a few years ago, I've been looking for other opportunities," Mr. Hinckley said. "This opened up and everybody was anxious to see the business revitalized and opened again. It's been a good experience."
Tomatoes are locally grown at the Kimberly Farm.
Eggs are local from Hipp Farm on Chestnutland Road. The couple is also hoping to get local meat in the store.
A second grill has been purchased and plans are to offer outside service for hamburgers. Ice cream is SoCo brand from the Berkshires.
Northville contractor Kelly Carter is a regular.
Privately employed himself, he thinks it's important to support mom and pop businesses, he said.
"I come in here every day," Mr. Carter said. "The food's fantastic and everybody's always smiling. I come over here in the morning and always leave happy because everybody's having such a good time."
The Merryall Market and Deli, located at 28 Merryall Road in New Milford, is open seven days a week, Mondays through Saturdays from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 860-799-6312 for delivery service.