Aug. 3, 2005 Walking into the small, quaint restaurant in downtown Charlotte Amalie, one is instantly filled with the savory scent of bell peppers and onions.
But it's not the delicious odor nor the brightly colored walls that keeps customers coming day after day to Jen's Gourmet Café and Deli, rather it's the time that owner Jennifer "Jen" Berry puts into getting to know them.
Jen, who also serves as the main chef for the restaurant, knows all her "loyal customers" and greets them by name from her station by the large stoves of the deli.
"I spend the whole day socializing back there," Jen said as she sat to take a break from her cooking Wednesday afternoon. "Everyone from senators to the taxi drivers eat here."
And indeed despite its small size, Jen's Deli is one of the main hubs at lunchtime for the legislators, attorneys and other government workers in close proximity.
Jen and her staff whip up breakfast and lunch for their customers each day from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., serving anything from French toast to fruit salad and the hot and cold sandwiches that the deli is known for.
"My motto is feed 'em like I eat 'em," Jen said, explaining she gives her customers the foods and size portions that she herself enjoys eating.
Jen, a 1987 graduate from the Charlotte Amalie High School, got her start in the restaurant business during her high school years by washing dishes for Ferrari's, a former north side restaurant at the site of Deano's.
"It actually started out as an after-school job," Jen said, but added it led to her interest in the restaurant business.
She worked her way through the industry, earning a bachelor degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management from Johnson and Wales University, R. I.; did training at Stouffers and Agavé Terrace; and managed the kitchen at the Greenhouse Restaurant for the last five years before opening Jen's Deli.
Jen said she is content with her restaurant and has no intention to expand in size despite her ever-growing customer base.
"I love this little place," Jen said as she looked around her small restaurant.
She'd rather expand on the services that she gives to her customers.
The deli provides a delivery service to customers in the Charlotte Amalie area, Sub Base, Havensight and the hospital area. Customers can also visit Jen's Deli on the Internet at "www.jensdeli.com " and view the special of the day before calling in their orders. Wednesday's special was chicken or veggie roti.
Jen also caters for special events to her customers and hopes to expand in this area in the near future.
She is married and has a 6-year-old daughter. She said managing and cooking for her small restaurant gives her time to do what's most important to her.
Jen added, "My main thing is to have a family life."
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