supply chain issues

Rein's Deli Dealing with Kosher Meat, Worker Shortage

NBC Universal, Inc.

A national shortage of kosher meats is causing big headaches for Rein’s Deli and Restaurant in Vernon.

Rein’s Deli in Vernon is feeling the impact of supply chain shortages.

Their customers are too.

The New York Style deli has seen a lot in its almost 50-year history from a devastating fire to famous diners, but this is a first.

For the past couple of days, Rein’s Deli has been out of what people crave - their Kosher pastrami and corned beef.

“On a typical week we’ll go through 700 pounds of pastrami, we’ll go through probably 650-700 pounds of corned beef and it’s been a struggle getting it,” said Russell DeBella, a Rein’s busboy turned part-owner who showed NBC Connecticut the bare shelves.

DeBella says there is corned beef and pastrami available, but not the Kosher brand they insist on serving, so they’ve been steering customers towards other sandwiches the last couple of days.

“We would rather be out than to serve something subpar.”

He said from truck drivers to packing materials, you can’t count on anything these days like the shipment of pastrami and corned beef they’re praying to get Thursday.

“They’re telling us we’ll get 700 pounds of each, no guarantee.”

Despite the initial stomach shock, diners we spoke to Wednesday appreciate the deli’s transparency with signs taped all over the store.

“I’m mostly sad for Rein’s, but they have so many other things on the menu,” said Martha Roediger of South Portland, Maine who always stops at Rein’s on her way to and from New York.

Like other local businesses, Rein’s is also dealing with a staff shortage.

“We’ve hired maybe fifteen line cooks in the past month and a half to two months. We have two that lasted,” said DeBella.

Rein’s says they’re offering more than just the bread and butter.

They’ve raised pay, include benefits, overtime and a 401k too, and they still have many positions to fill.

"I would say (to viewers), if you want a job, come and see me. We have about 40 available.”

A packed tour bus made a pit stop at Rein's for lunch Wednesday.

Those on board told us they’re seeing this on their travels too.

“The shortages in housekeeping, staffing, restaurant staff, everywhere you go,” said Penny Rudolph, a Starr tour director who led the group to Maine.

“At home, the supermarkets you're faced with the same thing. They can’t get deliveries. Hey move on, pick something else,” said Lorraine Dryden, who was traveling from Pennsylvania.

Because of the lack of staff, Rein’s has also stopped cooking omelets after 11 a.m. too to accommodate workers.  

“We can’t push our staff anymore and we’re maxed out at what we can do, so the customers have to understand and the good ones, they’ll support us and accept it,” said Debella, who hopes customers around Connecticut are patient and kind with the problems restaurants are facing.

Despite the challenges, Rein’s is thankful for their longtime, loyal customers and staff members like Lisa, who was working the cashier Wednesday.

She usually balances the deli’s books.

“Very long year and a half, but you know what the deli is going to survive, 50 years next year. $27.44,” said Lisa, whose last name we never could gather as she was too busy ringing up customers.