Aug 13, 2023

Wendy's Deli celebrates 30 years serving the North Fork

By Nicholas Grasso

Wendy Zuhoski, the owner and driving force behind Wendy’s Deli, invited the community to celebrate her business’ 30th anniversary last Friday.

For two hours, the breakfast and lunchtime staple at the corner of Sound Avenue and Cox Neck Road in Mattituck gave away free sandwiches and Boar’s Head hot dogs to the swaths of regulars who stopped by, many for the second or third time that week.

Asked how she felt the celebration went while working the following morning, Ms. Zuhoski said, “Today, tiring.”

“We had a really good day yesterday,” she added. “Everybody showed up and it was a really nice day.”

Ms. Zuhoski said that although her business has clearly benefited from the extension of the North Fork’s busy season well into the fall, the biggest driver of success has been the community itself. Even a complete stranger walking into Wendy’s for the first time would appreciate the owner’s close ties to the area. Among the various plaques and awards decorating the deli’s front counter are a “thank you” the Cutchogue Fire Department gave her last year for supporting their Stuff the Sleigh 5K for 10 years; a 2019 Citizen of the Year award from the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association; and a clipping from The Suffolk Times naming her its 2015 Business Person of the year for “her love of her community” and “her generosity.”

“I think because I grew up right down the road from here, born and raised here,” Ms. Zuhoski said when asked why she has given so much of herself to support local causes over the decades. “I think that anytime anybody has ever needed anything, we were always there for them — ‘we’ meaning the entire community.”

Ms. Zuhoski has supported countless fundraisers for ill neighbors, local nonprofits and any community member or family she heard needed help.

“Every time something happens she’s donating food, donating her time,” said regular customer and Southold police officer Pete Onufrak, who swung by Friday in plain clothes to celebrate Ms. Zuhoski’s milestone. “She sent boxes and boxes of sandwiches during COVID. She fed everybody, police, fire [departments], the hospitals.”

Despite so many years of success , Ms. Zuhoski said her secret is simple. “I just take it day by day,” she said. The 55-year-old added she may take a step back when her 78-year old mother, Carol Zuhoski, who has served Wendy’s regulars for 30 years, retires. Before she came on board to whip up chicken and potato salads, Ms. Zuhoski encouraged her daughter, then in her early 20s, to become an entrepreneur when the landlord who owned the deli offered her the chance to take the reins.

“I knew she could do it,” Ms. Zuhoski said, recounting the lead-up to Wendy securing ownership of the deli on Sept. 15, 1993. “When we were going to the lawyers and getting everything fixed up, I said, ‘Look, if you don’t do it, you’re always going to wonder if you should have. Try it; do the best you can.’ And she has, for 30 years.”

Nicholas Grasso joined Times Review Media Group in January 2023 as a staff reporter who covers local entertainment, government and businesses. He graduated Stony Brook University School of Communication and Journalism in 2021.

Looking to comment on this article? Send us a letter to the editor instead.