Gerard's Deli sold after 32 years
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Sep 21, 2012 | 9260 views | 14 14 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gerard's sold
Lynn and Gerard Gonsalves work in the hot food section as they serve the lunch crowd at Gerard’s Deli on Thursday, Sept. 20. The couple has sold the deli which becomes official on Oct. 1.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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For 32 years, Tracy residents could count on Lynn and Gerard Gonsalves to serve up delectable dishes at their downtown restaurant, Gerard’s Deli.

Those three decades of

tradition are coming to an end, with the official sale of the deli Oct. 1.

With a heavy heart, Lynn Gonsalves said Wednesday, Sept. 19, that selling and slowing down their lives had long been the couple’s plan. She said she and her husband decided recently to see if there was a purchasing interest out there, but they were warned not to expect a response for a year or two.

Within a month, however, a pair of sisters from the Bay Area made them an offer.

After the initial shock, she said, they had to consider what it meant to sell a place they have called home all these years.

“It feels like we’ve invited people into our living room for the last 32 years,” she said. “Everyone has been so

welcoming. Tracy has been amazing to us. We couldn’t have asked for a better ride.”

The Gonsalveses are looking forward to a future with more family time. With three married daughters, three sons-in-law and three grandchildren, they plan to take it easy for the first time in years.

“This (Gerard’s) is our heart, soul, life,” she said, “but with kids, there are no do-overs. Family is the most important. You don’t get to be grandparents twice.”

News of the sale created a sense of sadness among customers enjoying their sandwiches and hot meals Thursday, Sept. 20.

“That’s shocking,” said Mary Hernandez. “It’s sad to see a longtime friend leave. It’s the freshest sandwich in town — never disappointed.”

Greg Gillespie said his 17-year-old son, Kurtis, had come from Oak Grove and wanted to eat at Gerard’s.

“I’ve been coming here since 1999,” Greg Gillespie said, “and he’s been coming since he was a boy. I love this place. It’s sad.”

The Gonsalveses purchased the site of Gerard’s Deli when they were both 22 years old in 1980. It then housed a smaller ice cream and candy shop called Kreme & Kandy, next door to Tracy Typewriter at 939 Central Ave.

The couple quickly transformed the space to accommodate their dream, a deli restaurant. Within five years, they expanded the business with the purchase of the typewriter shop, adding a full kitchen and hot-plate section to create the Gerard’s layout that exists today.

“We’ve watched generations (grow up),” Lynn Gonsalves said. “People that worked for us come in with kids, and some with grandkids.”

Eight-year employee Gigi Correll said she calls Gerard’s “the heart of Tracy.”

“People come here to talk, laugh, vent and mourn,” she said. “I’m happy for them, but for the rest of us, it’s hard.”

Other longtime staff members include Louie Laura, who has worked at the deli for 27 years, and Junior Kennedy and Susan Rodarte, 18-year employees.

Gerard’s is one of a few family-owned downtown businesses to remain a local destination for more than 20 years, along with Caldron’s Jewelers, 907 Central Ave., and Richard’s Men’s Wear, 70 W. 10th St.

Lynn Gonsalves said the deli’s success came from hard work and dedication.

“We worked hard — that’s our mantra,” she said. “We do everything with the best of our ability. Quality with great service.”

She said the sign hanging on the restaurant wall coveys the true feeling the Gonsalveses have for their loyal customer base: “It’s been a pleasure, if not an honor.”

The new owners are two sisters from Northern California, whose names have not been released.

Lynn Gonsalves said they will arrive in October to work with the deli’s founders for a two-week transition. The sisters, who have 13 years of restaurant experience, appear to be set to keep the business name and maintain the downtown deli tradition with the purchase of everything inside the restaurant.

Quirky touches fill the space, from a wall covered with customers’ business cards and handwritten notes to sports memorabilia and celebrity posters — including one of Farrah Fawcett in her iconic bathing suit — from the era when Gerard’s began.

The only things that will go home with the retiring couple, Lynn Gonsalves said, are the handmade signs inside the office that announced one-day closures for the celebration of a daughter’s wedding. And, of course, lots of memories.

Among a family that doesn’t seek the spotlight, the sale has been heralded

with little fanfare. But as Lynn Gonsalves worked behind the deli counter Thursday, she couldn’t escape customers’ repeated well wishes and expressions of sorrow.

“It doesn’t feel like 32 years,” she said. “Time just flies. It’s been amazing, and I’d do it again, all over again.”

Comments
(14)
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code20
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September 24, 2012
Lynn, Gerard and staff, hate to see you go. It was like walking into the family kitchen when we came in; called by our first name, often asked if we wanted our usual and always greeted with a warm smile. I can remember when you took over the ice cream and candy store with baby in tow and soon added and expanded your delightful deli with several new babies along the way. You were a part of our family as much as we were yours.

Gerard’s was a place my mother and her friends meet for lunch every Wednesday for many years; you always had their table reserved for the group. We had celebrations of birthdays, anniversaries, becoming grandparent and other monumental celebrative gatherings with the best food, service and hosting. Sorry to see you go, but know you are leaving when the business is loved and doing very well. I believe it will continue when the new people take over the fine institution you have created for all of Tracy to enjoy. It’s time for you to enjoy retirement, you deserve the time off. Have fun and enjoy your new endeavors. By the way, those are nice photos of the sandwiches on the wall with all the business cards. Who did those?

Urmomma
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September 23, 2012
Congratulations to you both :) May you enjoy the rest and well deserved time for you and your family! Hopefully the new owners continue the great service and delicious quality of food.
Realintracy
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September 23, 2012
Gerard's is a wonderful deli. The owners and employees have done a great job serving the community for years! Let us all thank them for their efforts and congratulate them on their retirement.

Apparently two ladies from, who cares where, have purchased the business, and risked their money to take over. Let's welcome them and help them thrive. We are a nation of immigrants, people from all over the world. Aliens from over the hill, the bay area, are not going to threaten our way of life!

Can't we all just get along!
mommyofthree
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September 22, 2012
And another one bites the dust..... This was one place that I hate to see go. Being taken over by bay area people, this place is going to tank. It's sad to see all of these mom and pop places that I have grown up with since I was 2 leave. :(
callitlikeitis
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September 21, 2012
I sure hope that the new "bay area" owners will respect the small town charm of Gerard's. Its sad someone local couldn't purchase the deli because it truly takes being from here to understand its importance to the community...on a side note I sure hope that this place doesn't begin to feel like a Subway although i fear it will eventually come to that.
newtotracy
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September 21, 2012
there are a LOT of GREAT small deli's, restaurants, and businesses in the dreaded "bay area" that are exactly like businesses in Tracy.

I totally get why Tracyites treat the words "bay area" like a dirty word...I lived in Montana for half of my life...and you want to see someplace that has been quite sullied by "Californians"...there you go!

But not everyone from the Bay Area is an evil, take-over at all costs jerk. Many are people just like Tracy citizens...who, like I, grew up in the 1970's version of the Bay Area and miss it like mad!

Just because someone comes from the Bay Area does not a) make them evil, b) mean they'll turn Gerard's into Subway or c) mean they will ruin Tracy.

After the past few years of living here...I think that a lot of the way of thinking in this town DOES need some shaking up and an infusion of new (and maybe more current) thought processes. We're mired in the old ways (which I am a huge fan of the old ways in some cases) and sometimes that works to our detriment.

Let's congratulate the owners on retirement...wish them well...and treat the new owners with the same respect we treated the old ones with...unless they prove otherwise! :-)
newtotracy
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September 22, 2012
wow RealGoodMemory...such hatred and vitriol for a Saturday morning.

you really didn't get ANYTHING right.

a) not a hipster

b) not a "he"

c) nope...born in CA and raised for the first 12 years here...proudly!

before you spout off about how "retarded" (really nice there) someone is...you might want to take a look in the mirror and decide how you will look when you decide that YOU know everything about an internet poster.

I can definitely determine from YOUR post that you are a trolling pill.

And the digs on Montana? Obviously you get all of your disinformation from really great sources...as opposed to actually being there.

It's no wonder people think Californians are asses.
newtotracy
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September 22, 2012
um...no..."he" is most definitely NOT a gender-neutral anything...you have it mistaken for "it" or "he/she"...but "he" refers to a member of the male population.

I am VERY proud to be a Montanafornian...I take pride in both of my "heritages"...my comment about Montana being "sullied" was a comparison.

I'm not going to argue with someone who continues to refer to ANYONE as "retarded" because they aren't worthy of anyone's time.

If you were to look at my posting history, you'd see that I'm quite enamored with Tracy and usually I'm the one ragging on people for bashing this town. I want to see Tracy succeed, but talking trash about someone coming in to keep a business open is NOT a good way to charm people into loving Tracy.

You are a bigot...you seem to have something against women (since it's ok to refer to us as "he" or as gender-neutral) and against special needs people (calling someone "retarded" hasn't been "vogue" for decades).

Enjoy your happy little life trying to bring others down to a level below you. NOTHING in my post was anti-Tracy...NOTHING was really ANYTHING you posted.

I need to learn to ignore the comments...since this is who leaves them.
newtotracy
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September 22, 2012
And for the record...I moved to MT when I was 12...not by choice but I call it one of my homes by choice. I returned to California because family is here and because honestly, I am not that fond of below zero weather. :-)

I moved to Tracy about 4 years ago...love it. The small town feel of Montana with the amenities of California...perfect! Unfortunately, I've found that many in town think that anyone NOT from Tracy is out to ruin it (especially those from the *gasp* Bay Area...nevermind that commuters really keep this town's revenue going)...and that sometimes choices made by those in charge are a little outdated. Not all, but some.

I think that these sisters have a 50/50 chance at keeping Gerard's a favorite...but without the support of the customers...they will fail. THAT was what MY post was about, but rather than see it for what it truly was...you instead chose to know everything about me (but actually nothing) and tear me apart.

I do hope you feel better and that you got your jollies...because the post that actually RELATES to the article and another post...is actually the one that looks less stupid than the one that merely assumes and bashes another poster.

Enjoy...you've reminded me yet again why I steer clear of comments...because I enjoy life and there are FAR better things to do than argue with miserable sods like yourself.

ps...sorry for your negative experience in Montana...it's a wonderful state...
CarpenterNewton
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September 21, 2012
I've been going to Gerard's my entire life. What a great place of which I have fond memories. My mom & I have lunch there often, as much for the great food as the opportunity to run into old friends. Mr. & Mrs. Gonsalves, I wish you the best of luck. Thank you for creating a business that is the heart of Tracy.
mtrew
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September 21, 2012
I wish you guys the best! Gerard's is fantastic. I hope the new gals keep it that way! Hmmm. Maybe I will have to go get a beefy ortega jack today! Yum!
108MW
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September 21, 2012
Gerard's Deli - The best thing about Tracy. Sad to see it go. Hope the new owners carry on the stellar reputation.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 21, 2012
I too am sad ta see it go. But nothin lasts ferever an that's just a part of life. One chapter of th book is over an another begins. Gonna miss thair excellent meals though. Hopefully th sisters that bought th place will realize th business magic it possesses an won't change it. But that's doubtful as they no doubt have ideas of thair own. Hopefully they will work out an th place will be even better. Wouldn't change th name though if it doesn't need ta be changed. Thair's a lot ta be said fer name recognition an Gerrard's definitely has that nailed down.


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