In late April, Attman’s delicatessen, the Baltimore landmark established in 1915 on Lombard Street’s Corned Beef Row, will open a second location in the Cabin John Shopping Center & Mall in Potomac, raising high hopes for our deli-deprived area. Here’s what third-generation owner Marc Attman, 60, had to say about the historic decision to expand:
Why did you pick Potomac for your second location?
We do a lot of business, a lot of catering in Potomac. We have a lot of clientele who come from Potomac and stop by [the Baltimore restaurant]. We just felt that the community wanted us there. I like the shopping center. They fixed it up, brought in other food places. If it was
like the way it was five years ago, I wouldn’t have gone there. I like where there’s action and variety.
Will it be different operating a deli in Potomac versus Baltimore?
I’m a good listener; I expect to be
there a lot. If people would like something else or if we’re missing the boat…we didn’t get to be in business for 98 years by being stagnant. It is more expensive to do business in Potomac. I’d like to say pricing will be exactly the same [as Baltimore], but it’s pretty hard. For nighttime, there will be a dinner menu—brisket, a couple fish items, at reasonable price points.
What’s the key to a great deli?
A lot of today’s businesses, they run on a strong structure, they watch every penny, but it’s not for the customer. My business is the person coming in, knowing what they want.
The second thing is, I’m a third-generation guy. I was raised with corned beef in my bottle.
What’s the best way for diners to evaluate a deli?
If you want to know a deli, try a little bit of everything. Here’s what I think you should do, at least the first time: Get corned beef or pastrami, a hot dog with bologna, get a knish, get a flavor of everything. One of the things we’re going to try to do—it’s a little bit of a secret—is to bundle all
that stuff together into a mini-feast for your table.
Are you worried about hiring good deli servers?
Everyone will be trained on Lombard Street. Everyone that we hire will spend a few weeks there, in the trenches. And there’s no tipping. Everyone makes a living wage.
Did you work at your family’s deli when you were a kid?
My mother put me on the bus and sent me down there when I was 8 years old. I’ve never stopped working. My father put me in the back with a retired Navy sergeant. He taught me how to clean out the pots, and make sure everything was spotless.
What’s it like opening a second location after nearly 100 years in one spot?
We’re very, very nervous. It’s new and exciting. And we’re also remodeling Lombard Street. I’m messing with success.