All photos courtesy of Frisco’s Facebook page
Though many have lost their jobs to COVID-19, new owners Issa Nafe and nephew, Omar Hanna, are transforming tough circumstances. Frisco’s Family Deli is the result of an unexpected opportunity and the whole family’s in on it. Social media manager and son-in-law, Ramzi Soudah, claims “they’ve always wanted to open something.” What started as a random invitation from one of Issa’s friends turned into a rewarding new business venture.
Ramzi explains that getting Frisco’s up-to-snuff was no small feat for reasons beyond the pandemic. “The place was disgusting when they first walked in. There was grease everywhere,” he depicts. Before Frisco’s, their location housed a burger joint with no hood (kitchen vent) in the restaurant.
Given the limited equipment, Ramzi concludes that a “deli was going to be our best bet.” After their three-month-long effort to remodel, nix the floors, clean equipment, and obtain licensure, Frisco’s Family Deli finally launched on August 1st.
The Frisco’s Family Deli Family
Four weeks in and quality food and family roots already define the Frisco’s Family Deli experience. Ramzi highlights that “Issa and Omar are both San Francisco natives. Issa went to Balboa High School and grew up in Excelsior, and Omar grew up in the Sunset District.”
Ramzi was raised in Santa Rosa, where Issa and Omar reside now. “They commute every day…having the opportunity to open a business in their native home was ideal for them. It’s nice because they can tell their story when customers walk in and ask them if they’re from the city,” Ramzi shares.
The Frisco’s crew goes big – with food, family, and their love for San Francisco. Ramzi light-heartedly loses count of Issa’s siblings, one of whom he mentions is Omar’s mom. “One of the reasons they wanted to go into the business is to help the family get a head start…helping everybody at the same time…getting everyone situated,” Ramzi illustrates. The abundance mindset’s inspired as Ramzi illuminates the wealth potential for everyone.
In addition to Frisco’s Family Deli being family-owned and operated, Ramzi enhances the family involvement even more. “They got nephews and nieces that come in from time to time to help them out.” He reflects on the benefit of the family model, claiming, “…With gentrification and all the techies coming in and pushing the natives out, it’s nice for the locals to see a family business that’s just starting up.” Family shops can offer strong backbones in business, and Frisco’s Family Deli is a prime example.
Frisco’s Food Makes Instant Community
Frisco’s Meditteranean influence is landing well for the community. Ramzi maps out their offerings. “We do Meditteranean salads…Meditteranean twists…all desserts are Meditteranean pastries,” he claims. Frisco’s team’s not shy about portions and they’re enough to get people talking. Ramzi’s open about their “Huge, huge sandwiches…We get a lot of feedback and people are like, ‘These sandwiches are like two portions! We eat it for lunch and dinner.’”
With Ramzi’s culinary school background, he knows the economics of food. “For the price, it’s there. It’s good food, we use Boar’s meat…only the best.” It gets better! Frisco’s offers vegan options to cater to the locals’ preferences.
Ramzi reflects that spending three months in the neighborhood before the opening was a chance to build connections. “All the businesses around the deli have been there for a long time. Everybody helps each other out,” he says. “The coffee shop down the street sends people to us and us to them.”
Being around long-standing businesses offers hope for the Frisco’s team. Though Ramzi’s honest about the owners not having a restaurant background, his own culinary expertise has helped build a thriving food and family-focused business.
Gaining Momentum for a Bright Future
Ramzi’s purest hope is for people to “love the food, love the environment, and want to come back.” Amidst the pandemic, he’s candid about their goals.
“To walk into a local business, people are scared, so it’s been pretty challenging. We’re trying to build a clientele right now. Being a brand new place in a pandemic is kind of rough but with all the feedback and reviews that people are posting, it’s nice to see people are happy when they leave and they love the food.”
Without a current delivery system, Frisco’s Family Deli’s relying on their regulars. They’ve made the best of it, however, through creative and organic social media marketing. Ramzi’s rewarding customers for their online engagement. “Any time someone comes in, we have offers for them to get free soda or a percentage off if you check in to our page on Facebook.”
He understands the domino-effect. Ramzi notes, “For every one person that’s checking in, all their friends are seeing that they’re at our deli.” Without tons of foot traffic and people spending wisely these days, it’s obvious to Frisco’s Family Deli that every sale counts.
The advantage of a mid-pandemic opening is Frisco’s openness to change. “Good feedback, bad feedback, we’ll take it all,” Ramzi says. “We’re ready to go with what the community wants to see…[that’s] how we’ll run the business.” Frisco’s is currently working on getting outdoor seating to accommodate more people through these times.
With sandwiches named after San Francisco neighborhoods, Frisco’s Family Deli’s genuinely here for you, San Francisco. Come be part of the family 10-5 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 10-4 p.m. on Sundays to share the community love.