EASTON — Longtime community staple Old Mill Deli, which first opened in 1989 and was famous for its cheesesteak subs, hot soups and sandwiches, closed on Oct. 21.
The family-run business at 1021 N. Washington Street was dark on Oct. 22 with a closed sign hanging on the front door. Customers were pulling into the parking lot for much of the day, hoping for a last-minute grab of the deli’s meat subs, soups and boardwalk-style fries made from a famous family recipe.
Joyce Bridges, who runs the business with her husband Jeff, was inside packing up. She said they had planned to close on Friday but she couldn’t keep running the place by herself and working “12-hour days.” Her husband has had health problems and has been at University of Maryland Shore Medical Center for days.
“My husband has been in the hospital 50 times this year,” she said. “He’s not going to work anymore and I need surgery for my back. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Old Mill Deli joins the ranks of other businesses in town that have recently closed down during the pandemic, including Pet Valu and Pizza Hut. But Bridges insisted that COVID-19 and the economy were not an issue — in fact, the deli had been serving about 200 customers a day leading up to the abrupt closure.
“We’ve been getting slammed,” she said. “But I need surgery and no one wants to do my job. We have just four people who work here and I work from five a.m. until six at night.”
Devout customers flooded social media this week with supportive yet melancholy posts about the local sandwich shop. This sent a craze of customers to the deli this week to get a last fix, but many were disappointed on Thursday to find the doors closed.
“When I worked in Easton we ate here a lot,” said Shonta Copper, a resident who has patronized the business for more than 20 years. “This was a place to get good boardwalk fries, chicken salad, and cheesesteak subs. This was a good place.”
Bridges said she had been shopping around for a purchaser of the 31-year-old deli, but she has not found a buyer yet.
“I’m not doing this anymore,” she said. “I’m getting rid of everything and someone else can come in and do it.”