If you’ve seen one New York City deli, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen them all.
A staple on street corners across the five boroughs, they serve up simple coffee and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches to New Yorkers looking for a quick, affordable meal.
But at Datz Deli in Queens, customers line up for hours to get a taste of owner Joshua Dat’s pinnacle of classic deli offerings.
The 31-year-old opened Datz Deli in December 2022 with the idea of spicing up typical New York staples like a Jamaican steak with flavors from his father’s native Guyana.
“I wanted to be different,” Dat says on the latest installment of CNBC Make It’s “On The Job” series. “I wanted to give people something new to try.”
Datz Deli’s biggest draw is the DatMacPatty, a beef patty filled with shredded oxtail and mac and cheese.
Visitors to the Queens establishment line up for the DatMacPatty, a Caribbean-style beef patty filled with homemade macaroni and cheese. Other patty variations include stewed and shredded oxtail meat, beef curry and jerk chicken.
Side dishes on the menu include fried plantains, jalapeno poppers and spinach. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, Dat offers fried Oreos with the option of caramel or chocolate sprinkles.
The deli has developed a cult following on social media, with over 50,000 followers on Instagram and countless TikToks spotlighting its unique offerings.
Its popularity has made the family business – Dat employs his parents, siblings, uncle, nephew and a few close friends – a financial success. Datz Deli raised $300,000 in May and June, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, and is projected to bring in $1.2 million in 2023.
“I’ll have to pay about $355,000 in taxes if that’s the case,” Dat tells Make It. “You know what they say: more money, more trouble.”
But not everything is profit. In addition to the $3,100 rent bill, Dat estimates he spends $15,000 each month on oxtail alone. He pays himself and his brother $1,500 a week, while the crew members take home between $800 and $1,000.
Datz Deli is a family business
The growth that has exceeded all expectations Dat had when he made his first investment of $70,000 – $60,000 for the lease on the property and $10,000 for start-up costs and ingredients – to get the business off the ground.
But Dat and his family haven’t let success get to their heads.
“We’ve always been hard-working people,” he says. “It’s all just such a humbling experience and such a blessing. I’m so grateful for everything that’s happening.”
For the full story of how Dat and his family made their beef patty dreams come true, check out the latest installment of CNBC Make It’s “On The Job.”
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