He waited 6 years to open his family-owned deli in Fayetteville. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- While some businesses are trying to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, others, like the Downtown Deli in Fayetteville, are opening their doors for the very first time.

The deli, that sits along Hay Street, near the Market House roundabout, has been holding a soft-opening for nearly a week.

Its boarded-up windows show a business that's endured its fair share trouble in its early existence.

Owner Yousof "Joe" Alrobye, who lived in Manhattan, New York, for nearly 18 years, says he's seen plenty of hardship.

Alrobye, 41, started working in a deli at the age of 14. From there, he eventually was able to own a portion of his own shop at 17.

The deli, that sits along Hay Street, near the Market House roundabout, has been holding a soft-opening for nearly a week.

Its boarded-up windows show a business that's endured its fair share trouble in its early existence.

In 2014, he and his wife decided to move to Fayetteville, where Alrobye knew he wanted to bring that NY-style sandwich option to the downtown area.

"When I called back in 2015 to try to get this location, it was already rented out. So, I waited, and I kept coming around and hey, finally, I'm here," Alrobye said.

Six years later, Alrobye was able to stake his claim at 105 Hay Street; but this opportunity came during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with normal financial worries, the pandemic added to delays for his business opening.

"It was a little bit of everything. Everything was behind, behind, behind. But, then, I winded up going for it. Because, if I really wanted to do it the way I wanted it to be done. God knows what's going to happen," Alrobye.

On top of that, several of Alrobye's windows were broken by vandals two Saturdays ago.

Thankfully, Alrobye tells ABC11 his landlord plans to fix the damage, free of charge.

The former New Yorker says he's putting his shop in God's hands and hopes to see a good reaction from locals.
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