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Deli Delight

Eatery offers authentic choices, large portions

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OWNERS: Benny Erlich and Ken Lipack. Erlich is originally from the New York/New Jersey area and has been in the restaurant business for 30 years. Although he's the primary chef, there are no fancy terms to describe him other than the self-titled "H.Y.I.C." (Head Yankee in Charge). Pictured on the menu, Benny is as much a part of the ambience as the décor. Lipack, co-owner and brother-in-law to Erlich, also owns Harley Davidson of Charlotte.

AMBIENCE: Think of the diner from Seinfeld. In about 2,000 square feet, Benny's offers a friendly, warm atmosphere. "It's like a true New York deli," explains Lipack. "We want customers to get a sense of that warm and friendly feel. With all the activity in here, there's a lot of hustle and bustle, just like in the city." With booths that line the walls, it epitomizes the type of place where one could sit for hours with a cup of coffee. Pictures of New York City scenes and authentic signs from Yankee Stadium and the subway line the walls; there's even a picture of Seinfeld's Kramer holding a sandwich.

SEATING: Seats about 65, including the 10 booths and the front patio tables on the sidewalk. Highchairs and booster seats are available.

WINE LIST: Limited selection of domestic and import beers ($2.50, $3.25). Wine by the glass runs about $3.50.

TYPE OF CUISINE: "True New York deli food," says Benny. Everything is made in house, from fresh bagels to chopped liver. Specialties include the pastrami and corned beef Reuben, the Triple Bypass Sandwich, Green Eggs and Ham, the Nova lox platter, potato pancakes and meatloaf. Benny's also offers Taylor Ham, a pork product popular in the New York and New Jersey areas that "you can't get anywhere else in town." New York deli size portions set Benny's apart, and the menu goes so far as to warn the guest, "Benny's portions are larger than average, so therefore, we encourage sharing at no extra charge!" "The portions are so large that two grown men could share one sandwich and be satisfied," states Lipack. Five egg omelets and the 10 oz. burgers are a glimpse of the large portions. Desserts like the New York Cheesecake are $5.95 a slice, but the portion is about a quarter of a pie. Lipack says the French Toast tops the list at breakfast.

BONUS: The menu offers a "Lighter Fare," selections for the guest who's calorie conscious. Some of the items featured are salads, tropical chicken (grilled chicken on a bed of lettuce with fresh fruit), tuna and a turkey burger.

PRICE LIST: Appetizers and Noshes range from slaw ($2.50) to stuffed cabbage or pickled herring in cream sauce ($6.50). Deli sandwiches, hot sandwiches and cold sandwiches range from $7.95 to $10.95, burgers from $3.25 to $6.95. Triple Decker sandwiches like egg salad and bacon and ham, turkey and Swiss are all $8.50. Other menu items include Hot Open Platters which range from the knockwurst platter ($7.50) to the meatloaf platter ($8.95). Specialty drinks include $2.75 milkshakes and Chocolate Egg Cream (chocolate, seltzer and milk for $3.50 a quart).

HOURS: Open 6am to 9pm seven days a week. Depending on the demand, hours are subject to change.

RESERVATIONS: None needed; go on in.

RECOMMENDED PARKING: No hassle: Benny's is in a strip and shares a large parking lot.

CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards accepted.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible.

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