New deli in Pleasant Ridge will bring the retro vibe, starting with Dec. 20 preview event

The concept of Grand Central Delicatessen started when Jeffrey Strong, who’s spent 14 years working in Cincinnati restaurants, and partner Sheelah Parker decided it was time to go into business for themselves. At first the idea was to offer sandwiches and cold cuts just like delis in New York City, but the concept has blossomed into a deli/bistro complete with a bar and dog-friendly outdoor patio.
“We really want Grand Central to be a destination (but) we knew we couldn’t set up in a strip mall,” Parker says. “We live in Milford and have been able to watch the resurrection of Pleasant Ridge. It’s cool to watch old buildings come to life with new businesses in them.”
Strong and Parker are working to open the deli in February. On the inside it will look like a bistro straight out of the 1920s or ’30s, with Art Deco touches throughout, including a phone booth and bar from the time period.
“We’re trying to make it an immersion destination location,” Parker says. “When they step inside, we want customers to feel like they’ve gone somewhere else.”
Grand Central will also have house accounts, which delis had back in the day. Customers will be able to open accounts and place delivery or catering orders for business meetings. Grand Central is using Equity Eats, a program that allows customers to open house accounts for any amount and add to it over the year. After a year, customers see a 10 percent return on the original amount.
“House accounts will allow us to keep track of customers’ most ordered items and will help us build a relationship with them,” Parker says.
Not only is Strong Grand Central’s CEO, but he’s also the head chef. The menu will feature about eight signature sandwiches made on Sixteen Brix bread, each customizable. The piled high sandwiches will feature a number of toppings, including homemade pesto mayo, cilantro lime mayo and guacamole.
Grand Central plans eventually to offer pasta dinners with Strong’s homemade marina sauce, as well as brunch.
Parker and Strong are hosting a preview event on Dec. 20 at the Overlook Lodge right next door. The event will feature a curated drink menu from Lodge owner Jacob Trevino and light bites from Grand Central’s menu. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. You can order tickets here.
“The tasting event will help introduce the neighborhood to our menu as well as give everyone a chance to meet new friends and neighbors,” Parker says.
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Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.