By SUSAN ERICSON
Lifelong borough resident Paul Stout owned and operated Butler’s Deli in a strip mall on East River Road in Rumson for 15 years. Two and a half years ago, he was ready for a more leisurely life, he thought, and so he closed the business and gave retirement a try.
Locals Creative Fresh Takeout took over the space, and made a stab at the sandwich trade, but threw in the towel earlier this year.
Stout, realizing that “retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” decided to re-open Butler’s in the same space.
“The opportunity arose to come back, and we’re back with extra new things,” Stout told redbankgreen last week.
For starters, the place is “more kid-friendly,” Stout said, with a menu that includes a fried chicken combo consisting of chicken nuggets, fries, pickle and side salad, or a hot dog and fries. “The kids don’t have too many places to be silly kids,” he said.
Redubbed a market as opposed to a deli, Butlers now offers staples such as boxes of pasta, milk, onions, eggs, bread and fresh fruit. But it also boasts “more salads and organic products,” Stout said. “More fresh foods.”
Which is not to say old favorites can’t be had. The “famous” McEddie is still on the menu. Named for a “an old favorite employee,” it features breaded chicken tenders, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a hard roll.
Also on the menu are a couple of old stand-bys: the Hey Pauly, comprising porkroll, egg, cheese and home fries on a hard roll, and the Jersey Devil, consisting of porkroll and cheese.
The worn, dated decor is gone, replaced with shiny stainless steel, a big new deli case, and platters of baked goods piled high on the counters.
Returning the store to its original space of camaraderie and good natured discussion, Stout is already seeing the neighborhood regulars returning to those Adirondack chairs out front for a chat and a cup of coffee.
“It’s great to see the old familiar faces in the morning,” Stout said. “They’re friends, not necessarily customers. Friends.”