Naty and Juan Soriano owned Burlingame’s 3-J’s Deli for 20 years.
After 20 years in the Bayshore area, Burlingame’s 3-J’s Deli has closed its doors two Fridays ago so its owner can focus on another family business and because of a lack of profit.
The family-owned deli, which was at 833 Mahler Road No. 10, got its name from the owners’ three living children — Jessica, Jason and Joel. The family said the deli’s regular patrons knew the owners and their children very well that many of them considered them family. They even attended many of their social gatherings. Some of their customers would refer to them as “Mom and Dad.”
“This was a deli that was tucked in the industrial Bayshore area,” Jessica said. “There is not much foot traffic and for him to survive with no foot traffic was amazing. People knew about it because of word of mouth and were not only amazed by the food, but the warm customer service.”
Juan Soriano, the deli’s owner and Daly City resident, immigrated to the United States from the Philippines and worked many years as a head waiter at the Presidio Officer’s Club in San Francisco. After years of saving, he fulfilled his dream by opening 3-J’s Deli.
“In all honesty, my father may not know how to change a light bulb but he sure can go head to head with a French chef when it came to cooking oxtails in Burgundy sauce,” Jessica Soriano said.
It was originally a husband and wife operation until about almost five years ago when Juan Soriano’s wife Naty was not able to come regularly to help with the daily operations due to health reasons.
Their customers cared very much for them that on some occasions they had to intervene on unusual situations, Jessica said.
On one occasion, Juan forgot to lock the front door and one of his regular customers realized the door was slightly left ajar, then called him immediately and stayed there until Juan came back. During another, there was an unexpected family emergency and the deli was not open for business for couple of days. Customers worried as it was unusual for them to be closed for a number of days. On behalf of the family, a customer put a sign on their doors and said, “We’ll be back” to reassure their patrons they didn’t shut their doors without proper notice.
Since Juan ran the business on his own most of the time — cooking, working as the cashier, dishwasher, server and bus boy — some of his regular customers would help bus the tables while they waited for their orders to be cooked.
The deli not only served typical hot and cold sandwiches and salads, but Juan also cooked daily hot specials of cuisines from all over the world and served soup from scratch. Attaining his culinary skills from City College of San Francisco, Juan would served turkey with all the fixings on Mondays and clam chowder on Fridays.
Juan plans to spend more time with family and to focus his attention with Jessica’s business, a United Parcel Service store in Daly City which opened in 2009.
“I’m a nurse, so it’s hard for me to manage,” Jessica said. “He is helping me with it and he also still works part time as a waiter at the Marriott [Hotel].”
Jessica said it was important to her father that her mother have time to care for their children.
“It was the typical dad slays the dragon while mom stays at home with the kids,” she said. “It was important to him that there was a parent at the house. My mom made sure we were raised well and were looked after when he went out.”
He worked more than 16 hours a day, six days a week, Jessica said.
“It’s really hard for him to cut back his hours,” she said. “That’s why he’s so bored and wants to focus on the UPS store and work at Marriott.”
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