A restaurateur does a landmark inventory of businesses that have survived COVID. Now he is returning the favor to his patrons.

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Reflecting on the highs and lows of his years in business, Rob DeLuca says he’s counting his blessings. Now, with a couple of moving venues – Tottenville and the newly established West Brighton restaurants – he wants to relax and celebrate these times.

“It feels like five years went by so quickly — but it was five long years,” DeLuca said, adding a chuckle.

“It’s a little bit bigger deal for many years, especially with restaurants that have just gone through with COVID – and with what our customers are going through with the state of the economy,” he explained.

Jumbo Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Gravy with Roasted Cherry Peppers and Broccoli Spring (Courtesy of Rob DeLuca)

Therefore, DeLuca is allowing the current situation — inflated gas and food prices compared to past summers — as inspiration to give back to patrons through Sunday, August 7.

“We will be doing a lot of different specials every day until the Tottenville anniversary date – July 27,” he said.

Specifically at Amboy Road, which means Monday nights, kids eat free. On Tuesdays, Ten Dollar Tuesdays guarantees $10 apps from a select menu of 12 to 14 options. “Wine Down Wednesdays” offers half-price glasses of wine and 33% off a list of bottles.

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Entrees Langostino on the Regular Menu (Courtesy of Rob DeLuca)

The already successful “Lobsterfest” will continue on Thursday with an appetizer followed by a 1 1/4-pound lobster dinner for $39.95.

On Fridays and Saturdays, there will be a 24-hour ‘patio party’ in the garden and outdoor bar area from 5pm-8pm. And on Sundays, DeLuca will give every table a free order of their signature dish, Mamma’s Meatballs.

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Mama’s Meatballs (Courtesy of Rob DeLuca)

A ruined restaurant industry

As documented by SILIVE.com/Staten Island Advance articles and Yelp statistics during the pandemic in June 2020, the restaurant sector has been devastated during the pandemic. While Yelp at the time, for example, reported a nationwide permanent closing rate of 53%, DeLuca and several of his fellow borough food industry colleagues formed IROAR — the restaurant organization’s independent rescue association.

The effort was enormous, culminating in lawsuits and public appearances. As the group’s de facto head of state, De Luca made the rounds on national news and New York City radio stations to rally against the state’s ongoing ban on indoor dining through the summer of 2020. He and friend Max Calicchio of Max’s Esca became spokesmen for strict regulations and vaccine card checks That puts restaurants in the crosshairs of politicians. DeLuca said that the time someone spends away from work is having a good time.

“We felt the need to fight for people who couldn’t do it themselves,” he said.

The rally against the New York City vaccine

In 2020: Rob Deluca, owner of Italian restaurant Deluca, speaks at the IROAR rally in St. George’s Court against New York City’s vaccine mandates. (Staten Island Advance / Jan Soma Hamill)

In those dark times, DeLuca noted, “Although we still had a lot of challenges — the inspectors come looking for the masks, the temperature records and all of this… They were things they made us do, and they never checked. I have a pile of 365 days with records Temperatures that have never been verified.

He continued, “I think this was the most difficult time for him [DeLuca’s] Closures. It was a very stressful time for me. We were going through something that people in this world had never seen before and we had to do. Our customer base supported us and, as they say, the night is darkest just before dawn…and dawn came when we opened again. The happiest times all came together in one sense in 2020.

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The outdoor dining area has been expanded throughout the pandemic. (Courtesy of Rob DeLuca)

Guests are back in full force for parties, christenings, showers and dinners in the expanded outdoor garden section. And the SILIVE.com/Advance “Best Al Fresco” dining competition took home a grand prize. With business riding on and the pandemic recovering, his appreciation for the hospitality industry has grown.

DeLuca concluded, “Every day I wake up and make people happy. You have to swing and work your way through all the challenges that are thrown at you. But if you do it with a positive attitude in this life, you come out on top. You cannot give up.”

Pamela Silvestri is the Advanced Food Editor. It can be accessed at [email protected].

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