If there’s a way to combine a voter registration drive with a milestone anniversary, the Mount Airy Deli has found it.
The father and daughter entrepreneurial team, Coker and Angela Thomas, will be registering voters while giving away hot dogs, sodas and other refreshments for commemorate the fact that they are one of the few Mount Airy Black-owned businesses to reach the 18 year mark.
The event will be held at the corner of Devon Street and Mount Airy Avenue on Saturday, July 8 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Coker Thomas is very clear why he not only wants to showcase his specialty sandwiches and aesthetically pleasing ambiance, but ensure that small businesses like his continue to thrive. He said that he has benefitted from White House policies to assist small businesses. He wants to ensure that the economy continues to get better so he can pass a stable and strong enterprise to his daughter.
“It’s important to have African-American owned business,” he said. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I used to live on the other side of Mount Airy across Stenton Avenue within walking distance from here. I’d drive by here all the time and never really noticed this spot.
“Then 18 years ago I saw a rent sign here,” Coker Thomas added. “I knew I wanted to open a business. When I called the man he told me it was no longer for rent but for sale. So I bought it. I’ve been blessed ever since and I want to ensure that others get the same opportunity I got 18 years ago.”
A loyal customer who only goes by the name “Mike” said that he comes to the deli every day that it is open. So, every Monday to Saturday one finds the lifelong Mount Airy resident patronizing the local daily. “They have the best sandwiches in town and they’re the oldest Black-owned business that I know of in this area,” he said.
Coker Thomas added that among his loyal clientele is a married couple, both registered nurses. The husband comes in so often that his wife has nicknamed the establishment “the Mount Airy deli bar,” according to the owner.
“We are really one of those hidden treasures in the neighborhood,” Angela Thomas said. “That’s why we are doing something for this anniversary, which is actually July 8. We are hosting this event on that Saturday. We want to give back to the community and provide an important service (getting their voter registrations updated).
“I feel like we are building a legacy,” she added. “We are providing something for this neighborhood that we are really proud of. We are expanding by getting on Facebook and Twitter so that not just Mount Airy, but the greater Philadelphia can experience us.”