West Lane Pizza & Deli closes its doors after 31 years
For more than 30 years, West Lane Pizza & Deli was a staple in the Ridgefield community and was enjoyed by many families in town.
Owners John and Anna Saoulidis officially closed the business on Dec. 31, marking an end to an adventure that started in 1988.
The Saoulidises said that they will miss the friends that they had come to meet while being in business.
The deli had become one of the hotspots in the town where many families and friends often started their day with having breakfast, whether it was the breakfast sandwiches, or something made up to order special. The deli was also known for its Greek-style foods, especially the gyros.
“For 15 years, I have been coming here and my boys love coming for breakfast,” said customer Chris Curran. “I tell them they can go to eat wherever they want to in Ridgefield and they are always like, ‘We want to go to John’s.”
Many of the customers, such as Curran’s boys, call the deli “John’s” — rather than by its actual name, the owner said.
Many of the customers are in shock and saddened by the closing and will miss it.
When West Lane Pizza & Deli opened in Ridgefield over 30 years ago, it wasn’t anything like it was today. Back in 1988, it was just simply a market that sold food, alcohol and a few other general items.
When John and Anna bought the place, they transformed it into the place that it had become and quite popular. John is proud of the gyro machine.
“We slice up our meat and it is fresh up to order,” he said.
However, with the rush of the business and the countless hours put into it, it can be quite exhausting for an individual. During the deli’s last weekend in business, John talked about how he would be up at around 5 a.m. and at the deli sometime around 6 a.m. if not earlier.
On most days, he would be working most of the day and that can put quite the stress on someone.
“I am tired of the long hours and want a job that’s less demanding,” said John. “I will miss my customers because they have become like family to me,” he also said.
However, John won’t be going very far in the Ridgefield community. Once West Lane Deli is closed, he will be embarking on a new adventure at Gyro on Pita, located at 91 Danbury Road.
“I want a job with less hours and less worries as my son will be getting married very soon. I want to be able to spend more time with my family,” said John.
Many members of the community had lots to say on Facebook.
Rand Arrowitz recalls the time that he made John’s first sign for the deli when he went in business a long time ago. He once asked him [John] what the secret was to such a delicious pizza.
John’s answer: The water.
There have been many stories that people have shared over Facebook about their experiences at West Lane Deli and how it had impacted their families and childhoods.
“Thank you for always being there for my family, we have such fond memories of all our times spent enjoying your place. You were the first place my kids could walk to when they were growing up,” said Heather MacLetchie Ehinger.
Another person also posted about best childhood memories at the deli and stopping by after school. Others talked about how the deli had become such an important place in their lives. West Lane Deli was a place most people went to start their morning routines for breakfast and conversation either with John or Anna.
“John and family are the best and we thank you for creating so many memories for us and specifically for my dad (George) and me,” said Phil Samenuk.
When talking about the final countdown of the remaining days, John smiled and talked about how he will miss the people of Ridgefield that always came in.
“There have been very nice and friendly people that I have gotten to know over the many years,” John said.