Anchorage gets some Big Apple attitude

Anchorage is fast becoming a northwestern metropolis and its restaurants are finally starting to catch up. Marty’s New York Bagel Deli is setting a new standard for Anchorage restaurants with its snappy décor, inexpensive prices and good food.

Marty Weiser owns and operates his Bagel Deli, which opened June 2 in the old KFC location on Dimond Boulevard. Weiser was raised in Anchorage, but with a father who grew up in Brooklyn, New York and a mother from New Haven, Conn., visits to the East Coast were frequent and so were trips to delis.

Weiser decided to open his very own deli because he said Anchorage lacks convenient restaurants that aren’t fast-food joints.

“I was very frustrated that I couldn’t get a decent lunch and bring it back to work with me,” Weiser said. “There weren’t a lot of options for fast, fresh food.”

The deli offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, with items ranging from breakfast burritos to the Brooklyn Bomber, a sandwich with roast beef and grilled onions. Lunchgoers can choose from signature sandwiches or they can build their own. Prices range from about $6.25 to $7.95 per sandwich.

Weiser said that he has done almost no advertising, except for a Val-Pak coupon in south Anchorage, but in the two weeks of being open, business has been brisk

“Today there was a line out the door for about three hours,” Weiser said.

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He said the crowds are inconsistent and he’s still trying to work out the newly opened business kinks, but Weiser said word-of-mouth seems to be working.

“I was in Sam’s Club the other day and overheard two women talking about how great this bagel place is,” he said. “It was pretty cool.”

Weiser is new to the restaurant business. After majoring in speech communication at Oregon State University and spending six years working in commercial real estate, he said he wanted to do something new. He already has big plans for his small bagel business.

“My model is four stores in Anchorage in five years,” Weiser said. He said he hopes to open stores in downtown, midtown, east side and Eagle River. In the short term, by July 5 the deli will be selling bagels wholesale to venues all over Anchorage.

“We’re built for production,” Weiser said.

The restaurant isn’t just the old KFC. It’s difficult to believe that buckets of chicken were served at the same location. Spiral track lighting illuminates club chairs with swivel trays, which are scattered around a fireplace. A narrow counter curves around an extensive dining area with modern tables and chairs.

No cheesy paintings adorn the walls. A cutout cityscape spans the long end of the restaurant and four flat-screen TVs show C-SPAN and other news channels at reasonable volumes.

“It’s not a mom and pop type of look,” Weiser said.

This could easily be a new hangout with an Internet café and a fully functional Kaladi Bros. Coffee counter. Weiser said he is going to model the Internet charges after those of Kaladi Bros., but wireless Internet access will be available for about $3 an hour or patrons can use one of the several flat-screen Dell computers in the corner.

Weiser has invested a lot into his new business, including time. He works about 14 hours a day and he doesn’t see his family as much as he wants to.

“My kids miss me,” he said. “I get about 20 minutes of snuggle time a night.”

But starting a business is hard work and keeping it going is a struggle as well. Marty’s New York Bagel Deli has a lot going for it and it’s worth sinking your teeth into.