By Kristin Maffei for Mahopac News
Coming from two very differ¬ent backgrounds, Howie Gershman and Jim Mercadante have joined their expertise together to create a personal, one-stop experience for food service with their double business, Mercadante’s Café & Gersky’s Catering at 271 Route 6.
There, patrons will find a wide selection of deli items, sandwiches and prepared foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to take home or eat in the comfort of their new seating area with free WiFi and television. For large events, Mercadante’s & Gersky’s also specializes in catering and brings over 20 years experience to weddings, office parties, bar/bat mitzvahs and any other event customers can dream up.
Their different per¬sonalities help the business run smoothly, so they can handle large numbers of orders at any given time.
“One of the things that makes us success¬ful is our very distinct personalities,” Gershman said. “I enjoy talking to people and focusing on sales and business, while Jim really prefers being in the kitchen, doing the job and creating our product.”
Mercadante has worked in food service throughout his life. “I bartended for 13 years and a client asked me if I would help run a corporate service business,” Mercadante said. He ran high-end office catering for years before deciding to move into public food service and opening the Tuscan Market in Yorktown Heights. In 2004, Mercadante purchased the deli’s current location, which has easy access from Route 6 and attracts a variety of working customers for breakfast and lunch breaks. In addition to Mercadante’s & Gersky’s, Mercadante also runs the Planet Wings next door and Bella Latte in the Jefferson Valley Mall. The deli is by far the most difficult to run, with both an enormous inventory and a wide variety of competition, with 15 other delis within three miles.
“I like dealing with the food, and seeing my customers happy. I like everything about food service,” he said. “It’s very competitive, but I wish all the best to everyone. There’s not a lazy deli owner out there. We’re all working hard to serve the community, and everyone deserves to do well.” He works so hard, in fact, that while he was being interviewed, a regular customer walked past and remarked, “Jim, I didn’t recognize you sitting down.”
Meanwhile, Gershman began his career in the corporate world, managing computer networks before founding Gersky’s in 1987. Living in New Hampshire and knowing he wanted to try something different, he and his wife Ellen planned to open a bed and breakfast with his parents. Unfortunately, before their plans could be finalized, his father had a heart attack and passed away. While in Mahopac for the funeral, a friend approached Gershman about opening a small food court area in what is now the shopping plaza on Crompond Road in Yorktown Heights. Gershman agreed, and he used his father’s life insurance money to start Gersky’s. After 10 years at that location, they moved to Mahopac and began running catering for large scale events.
Business did well, but after seven years, Gershman decided to make a second career change, this time to financial planning.
He attempted to sell Gersky’s, but after meeting Mercadante, realized that a partnership would allow him to work at both careers simultaneously. Gershman describes the way he helps people with their finances as “a kinder, gentler version of financial planning”. He says he brings to financial planning the same skills and caring he uses to create a wedding or other event.