A resurrection on Henry Street

Sandwiched between Loomis St. and North St. is the little known, seldom-used Henry St. At the bottom of Henry St., less than half of a block up from North Willard St., lies a true Burlington business success story: Henry Street Deli Mart.

Two years ago, Henry Street Deli Mart was notorious for having nothing on its shelves.

Thanks to local business owner and current manager of Henry Street Manny Romanko, those days of old are far behind.

“About a year and a half ago, the store was on the verge of closing down,” Romanko said. “It was just a sleepy little market; the guy didn’t really put anything on the shelves, nobody really wanted to come here.”

“I live right across the street [from Henry Street Deli Mart],” Romanko said. “I just thought that people would want something a little different and that if I put a little time and effort into it, it could be a viable store.”

Henry Street Deli has found some of its success catering to college students.

“Without the students, we wouldn’t be here, and I recognize that and I cater to that part of the market,” Romanko said.

Romanko believes part of what is bringing students to Henry Street is a combination of good food and good prices.

“We have really good food; we concentrate on getting good products and [I] try to keep the prices as low as I possibly can,” Romanko said.

Bryce Shattie, a UVM junior and frequent customer of Henry Street, said that they “give a lot of sandwich for a cheap price.”

“They cut up the tomatoes right in front of you; fresh tomatoes, fresh meat, fresh veggies. It’s great, fantastic,” UVM junior, Dan Harris said.

Another ingredient to Romanko’s formula for the success of Henry Street is its atmosphere.

“It’s a fun place to be … there’s always music playing. Everybody enjoys working here, people enjoy coming here,” Romanko said.

The “fun” atmosphere one encounters in Henry Street can be attributed in part to the fact that Manny Romanko is running the store, employees said.

“Manny is one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met in my life; by far the best boss I’ll ever have and one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” Sam Swasey, a Henry Street employee and UVM senior, said.

“Because we like Manny and appreciate everything he does for us, we try to make the sandwiches and everything in here fun.”

Another Henry Street employee and UVM senior, James Weir, said, “Manny’s a righteous man and he runs a righteous business. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Henry Street has “done zero advertising … it’s all word of mouth,” Romanko said.

The “word of mouth” tactic has worked so well for Henry Street because of the great staff Manny has put together, the employees said.

“He just hired all of the coolest people so they could bring in all their friends,” Savannah Homanas, a Henry Street employee, said.

Self-described as having “job ADD,” Romanko currently owns Accent Insulation and a percentage of North Ramp Aviation, both local businesses, along with managing Henry Street.

Before moving up to Burlington, Romanko said he also owned a restaurant for eight years called Mark’s in his home state of Pennsylvania.

“All my life I’ve done different businesses, and this was definitely a new venture for me,” Romanko said.

“I’ll probably move onto something else in a few years, that’s just the way I roll – I just get bored with it. Once I accomplish something and get it to where it’s going, I try something different.”