You can smell the transformation taking place,” Deli Sandro’s owner and Rochester native Anthony D’Alessandro said in regard to the progression of the Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood, located mere minutes from UR.
Deli Sandro’s is located on South Plymouth Avenue, a block away from the Riverview apartments. He is hoping to help reinvent the PLEX neighborhood to accommodate a younger and more vibrant crowd through business and community development.
D’Alessandro’s brother, Joe, owns much of the property on and around South Plymouth Avenue and they’ve been working together on a long-term plan for the area.
D’Alessandro has three big projects under way: Deli Sandro’s Deli and Grocery, which opened a couple of weeks ago, Frank-N-Steins, a specialty hot dog and beer restaurant set to open in the spring, and Plymouth Square, a community venue still in the works.
The deli advertises “higher quality food that makes you want to eat more.” A big draw for the business is its partnership with Thumann’s, a producer of delicatessen products that do not contain artificial flavorings, fillers and colors, and are also gluten-free.
Deli Sandro’s is only the second establishment in Rochester to carry meats and a selection of small-batch, homemade soups from Thumann’s.
“During the past two and a half weeks of business, we have sold out of meat three times,” D’Alessandro said.
At this, the woman behind the counter smiled proudly. When D’Alessandro introduced her as his mother, she shyly shifted the focus back to her son. This family business mentality is indicative of the genuine community focus D’Alessandro has.
For instance, Deli Sandro’s serves their sandwiches on artisan breads from a local Rochester bakery, Martusciello’s.
This community focus also shows in the plans for the Plymouth Square community lot and D’Alessandro’s desire for a “college town” environment. D’Alessandro lives in the apartment above the deli and while Deli Sandro’s current hours are officially from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., he doesn’t always hold to them.
“Even if it’s past operation hours, just call,” D’Alessandro said. “If I’m there, I can come downstairs to make you something.”
Next door, D’Alessandro hopes to open Frank-N-Steins by March 2013. He hopes it can become the next UR hotspot.
“Frank-N-Steins was designed with the idea of what I wished I had when I was in school,” D’Alessandro explained.
Frank-N-Stein’s will boast glass garage doors that can retract to reveal an outer sitting area, a bar serving micro-brews and other frozen concoctions and an open kitchen serving mainly gourmet hot dogs and sausages.
Adjacent to the bar and currently under renovation is the empty lot that will become Plymouth Square, a patio-like area with bocce courts. D’Alessandro hopes to use the courts throughout the year as a pumpkin patch or to plant Christmas trees, for example, during the off season.
In an effort to maximize convenience and unify his projects, D’Alessandro plans to use a system known as Shop Keep that lets customers order from either business at any of the three locations.
The D’Alessandro brothers have already improved the area a great deal, but still hope to expand in the future.
The PLEX neighborhood has struggled with an unsafe reputation in the past, but D’Alessandro has a positive outlook.
“This area has all of the basic essentials to rival Park Avenue,” he said confidently. “There are bike trails to take you throughout the city and now with the opening of student-friendly businesses — the Plymouth-Exchange neighborhood is truly up and coming.”
With plans to eventually expand hours at both businesses, D’Alessandro hopes to “get good feet on the street at a good time at night.”
Hopefully the good feet of UR follow in D’Alessandro’s footsteps. After all, a “college town” is nothing without the college to fill it.
Lerner is a member of
the class of 2016.