During the outbreak of COVID-19, many small businesses had to close their doors to help keep the people of Flint and Genesee County safe and healthy. Other businesses remain open but have changed their business models to comply with executive orders directed by Governor Whitmer while still being able to serve the community.
One business still serving the community is Hoffman’s Deco Deli. Owner Heath Hoffman thinks it’s important to continue to serve his customers.
“Overall, the impact of the virus has hit us hard,” says Hoffman. “But I still want to be there for my customers.”
To help alleviate the strain on his business, Hoffman has limited his hours, disinfects the restaurant often and is trying to get the word out that they are still open for carryout.
“People thank us for being open,” says Hoffman. “Even if we lose money, I would rather be open.”
To counteract the losses, Hoffman is applying for programs through the Small Business Association and other institutions, which he says have been helpful during these hard times.
“We are trying to do things to help counteract the money loss,” says Hoffman. “I am afraid that if we close our doors, it will be very hard to re-open.”
The business has been part of Flint for the past 12 years and Hoffman takes pride in serving his community.
How did Hoffman’s Deco Deli start?
Back in 2007, my family was rehabbing the building we started the business in. My father was opening an antique store and had room left over. I always wanted to open a New York-style deli and so my father, brother and I designed the space and menu and we launched it in 2008.
What is your favorite memory?
Being welcomed into the community in our first year and being able to be part of the growth and revitalization in Flint.
How would you describe Flint and Genesee County to an outsider?
It’s a beautiful place that is growing each day. It’s a very hip and trendy spot that has great vibes and great opportunity.
What is your business philosophy?
Investing in the community. If you invest in people, they invest in you.
How are you involved in the community?
Each month, we partner with local non-profits to create a sandwich of the month. The organizations help create and name the sandwich and then a portion of each sandwich sold goes back to them. We’ve been doing it for eight years now.
Where do you like to shop, eat and spend time in Flint and Genesee County?
I try to hit up all the local restaurants. I go to the Flint Farmers’ Market and get produce for the deli. I like to walk and bike the paths along the riverfront. I shop at Shift, Bedrock and the Shops on Saginaw in the Dryden Building.
What are your plans for the future?
The new building. I recently purchased two more floors above the deli. I am in the process of cleaning them out. Then, I want to make a space for group activities like karaoke, darts or shuffleboard.
What advice would you offer future business owners?
Don’t be afraid to invest in the community. The more you show yourself, the more the community will back you up. It’s a huge part of being a business, especially in Flint.
Photo courtesy of Heath Hoffman.