By Connor Bell
Since 1972, Marathon Deli has been providing citizens with its authentic Greek food in College Park.
Owner George Soldatos has worked in the restaurant for the past 20 years with his wife Maria and son Peter. After his grandfather and father before him, Soldatos represents the third generation in his family to run the deli. This family business remains as one of the few remaining small business food options left in College Park.
The deli is located at 4429 Lehigh Road, next to the University of Maryland’s campus. The restaurantshop features a long counter to the right of the entrance where customers order food listed on menu boards behind it. There is also a small dining area in the back of the deli where customers can view the Greek art on display, or read articles about the deli near the store’s entrance.
The deli’s most popular dish is the gyro, according to Saldatos. The dish is made of cooked lamb with gorgonzola cheese and tomato and served on pita bread. Saldatos said all produce and meat come fresh from Queens, New York, and are delivered to Marathon Deli using Prima Foods Inc. to ship them. After the deli gets the ingredients, they make all the food fresh inside the restaurant.
Saldatos said he tries to offer students daily deals with the gyros every week at low prices, recognizing that the average college student does not want to pay more than a few dollars for food when they are eating out. He believes people come into the deli every day because it is the only place in College Park to buy fresh, authentic Greek food.
Providing for his family drives Saldatos to be successful with this business. Other than running the deli, he works as a supervising chef in other local Greek places around the area to support his family.
What is unique about the deli is that other than posting on Facebook and in the store, Marathon Deli does not advertise, according to Maria Soldatos.
However, sophomore public health science major Nyla Thomas believes their lack of advertising may be a problem. “I know people see the store, but they don’t know what they offer inside,” Thomas said. Thomas said she has only been to the deli once, because her grandfather told her to try it.
Marathon Deli technically has Instagram and Twitter accounts for advertising purposes, but its Instagram rarely posts food specials, and the deli’s Twitter has not had a post since 2011.
Despite this lack of advertising, Marathon Deli has had no shortage of customers and remains as one of the few places close to Maryland’s campus to get real authentic Greek food for a reasonable price. This is one of the reasons why the business has stayed in College Park for over 40 years.
As for the future of the deli, Saldatos said he plans to offer a delivery service for customers starting in September of this year.