Kappys – my Food job

kaplandj • March 16, 2011

Software Business

Last night in bed (the place I do my best work) I was listening to Back to Work 5by5.tv podcast with Merlin and Dan. It had me rolling on the floor and the memories came streaming back like it was yesterday. My Dad owned a well known Deli Restaurant named Kappys Deli-Land just outside of Philadelphia. I worked there from the time I was 16 (“kid if you can drive you can work”) until I was around 35. It was family business with my Uncle (co-owner), cousins, sister, and brother all working there at one time or another.

It had family feuds, sweat, long hours, drama, and a sad ending after 36 years in operation. It burned down once when I was away at camp. They tried to keep it a secret, but the kid in the next bunk showed me a letter from my cousin describing the fire. So much for that plan. I sliced thousands of pounds of lox. A skill I still retain to this day. I washed dishes, worked the sandwich board, the grill, bussed tables, worked the cash register. I was trained to take over the business one day. But my father had other plans for me.

My Dad (unlike Merlin’s Step father) was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. It is hardship working in a food establishment, but my Dad was a pleasure to work under. He also knew how to run a food business. His brother was an incompetent fool however. So it all balanced out to make for a mostly horrible hard experience. The funny part is I love the food part. To this day I still love to cook and always thought one day I could end up back in it.

After high school, I kicked around a few colleges and went back to work at the store. After a while, I finally decided I couldn’t take the family food business anymore and decided to finally buckle down and get my Electrical Engineering degree, which led directly into my software engineering career I’ve had for over 25 years. A few years into the field and a few quick tech layoffs – I decided I might want back into the family food business. I asked my Dad if he was ready to sell and he said “No”. But he was ready to sell in reality, but had better plans for me. I’m not saying this tech business is that easy. It sucks sometimes just like the food business. All things in retrospect its’ been fun to use my mind.

I did have one other food job being a waiter in Jensen Beach FL, while going to school at FIT. That was a wild few months of employment at a fine French Restaurant owned by a French guy (Claude).  That food looked great. But it was mismanaged and didn’t stay in business long. The Chef knew his cooking, but yelled and screamed constantly. Sound familiar Merlin? One night I got a hundred dollar tip from some guy who got too drunk.  Sweet.

Two food jobs. One tech legacy.