New Ken's new deli serves up specials amid growing foot traffic in city
There's a chance you missed the opening of Walt's Deli, New Kensington's newest eatery. But if you've been down Fourth Avenue lately, you probably couldn't miss Wally Dorsey.
Dorsey, complete with a fedora hat and a huge welcoming smile, is one half of the kitchen and waitstaff at Walt's Deli.
And according to owner Carrie Moser, he's also the face of the business.
“He just knows everyone, and they all know him,” she said. “He started showing up every day, so I had to give him a job.”
Since the deli's December opening, at the corner of Ninth Street and Fourth Avenue, Dorsey has been standing outside greeting passersby, distributing flyers and encouraging people to stop in and try the food.
Moser's restaurant is named for her late grandfather, a lifelong New Kensington resident.
Walt's Deli occupies the same storefront that once housed the Ninth Street Cafe.
The shop features artisan sandwiches, unique salads and Hershey's ice cream by the scoop.
Moser, who has lived most of her life outside Pennsylvania, said Walt's also serves a quick-style breakfast.
The deli focuses on fresh ingredients and preparing dishes that are unique, like the Walt's special — a sandwich made with roast beef, roasted red peppers, tomato, spinach and pepper jack cheese.
The sandwiches are big — more than some customers can eat in a single sitting.
“Food was very fresh and tasty; my sandwich was huge,” said Stacey Oden of New Kensington.
The weather has slowed business this month, Moser said, but she has worked in the restaurant business for more than 40 years and said she knows it's just a matter of bringing people in.
Walt's Deli is the first restaurant she's owned.
“The weather hasn't been great, and I think that's keeping people away,” she said. “But so far, people have been very positive and said they would come back and tell their friends.”
Oden said she definitely will be returning.
“I'll be going back to try the soups next week,” she said. “Definitely worth the quick skip across from parking at Central City Plaza.”
Moser said she has put everything she has into the business, an investment into a city that she hopes will hold on to the revitalization efforts that already have taken place.
Dorsey says the restaurant is in a perfect location to draw in foot traffic that's building in the city. He believes it will continue to improve once The Corner, Penn State's newly opened entrepreneurial center, is fully operational and holding regular classes.
The Smart Growth Partnership of Westmoreland County, a community-based, private nonprofit located at the Penn State Extension in Greensburg, held its monthly meeting at the deli at the end of December.
“I just hope I got here at the right time for the city to take off,” Moser said.