FORT MYERS, Fla. — During the pandemic, a new deli in Fort Myers is making a big comeback at the Fleamasters flea mall.
In a flea mall of 900 shops and 20 food stands, Zen Deli is sandwiched in the middle.
“I was thinking how do we integrate eastern culture with western culture so I came up with the idea of zen deli,” said Michael Tran, owner.
Tran says he spent two years laying out plans for his dream deli and creating one-of-a-kind sandwiches for his menu.
However, one day, his plans changed.
“In November of 2019, we decided to go ahead and open our location and we signed the lease. We’re getting the permitting ready, and all of the sudden, the pandemic hits and everything comes to a stop.”
The lease was for five years of rental space on San Carlos Blvd. The original spot he chose for Zen Deli.
Tran says when the pandemic hit, it stopped his business permit from being processed.
“Truthfully, it was the scariest thing that I’ve ever experienced, as far as business concerns.”
Tran says he couldn’t open his business or apply for stimulus relief, while he was stuck with rent payments for several months.
When he received his permit last November, he rented the food stand at Fleamasters.
“It helped to get the menu out there and to get input from our customers. Fortunately, the reviews have been fantastic so I’m very, very pleased.”
Tran says taking the hit to business was hard, but Zen Deli is back on track.
They plan to keep their booth at the Fort Myers flea mall.
Next month, they’ll also finally open their new location on San Carlos Blvd.
“I guess my take is to just take it as an opportunity rather than a loss and go with it.”
To follow Zen Deli on Facebook, click here.
To learn more about the Fleamasters Flea Mall, click here.