Josh Garcia knows the complexities of running a restaurant, having literally grown up in the business, thanks to his grandfather, Jack Grodzinsky, who moved his family from Brooklyn to Arizona.
Upon arrival, Grodzinsky took a bus ride from Tucson to Phoenix looking for a business he could purchase to help support his family. He decided on a restaurant on McDowell Road and 16th Street. It was then that the family began its legacy of the Miracle Mile Delicatessen, which has called Phoenix its home since 1949.
Garcia, who remembers doing homework on top of a pickle bucket, never expected to go into the restaurant industry. However, he found himself managing the now-closed Arrowhead location of the Miracle Mile at the age of 21. He has been a part of the restaurant since then, and recently took over management duties from his parents, Jill and George Garcia.
Miracle Mile has had stores in various shopping centers across the Valley, including Park Central, Arrowhead, Colonnade and Christown, the latter of which closed in 2000 after 42 years.
Now with one location, the restaurant moved from the Colonnade into the family’s building at the southeast corner of 16th Street and Campbell Avenue in Phoenix about a year and a half ago.
“Making the move from there to here was a big risk, and we had to take it,” George says. “We have more exposure right here on 16th Street. We have our own building, our own parking lot. We control our destiny here.”
The move has been a success, and the rest is brisket history.
The exterior’s retro look belies the sleek-but-comfortable modern interior. There are individual tables and cozy booths available, with an outdoor seating area as well. Josh describes the planning that took place as the building was constructed.
“In discussing the design process with the architect, we wanted it to be comfortable when people are eating here,” he says. “And yes, our serving line is extremely fast and extremely efficient, but when people are sitting down they can take as much time or as little time as they want. We wanted to take that into account.”
The newest location invites a variety of customers, according to George.
“Today it was really funny because I was talking to a customer, and it was his first time here,” George explains.
“He said, ‘I saw these cars pulling in and out, and I had to find out what was going on. I pulled in and grabbed a sandwich – and this is great!’”
Following that encounter, a longtime customer from the Christown days came in and said, “I saw your new building, and I had to stop in.”
A restaurant that has been in business as long as Miracle Mile is bound to have a lot of “old timers” who return to feast on the homemade soup, the daily specials such as hand-carved roast turkey, fresh salads, and of course, the standard deli sandwiches such as a Reuben or hot pastrami.
Jill says she would recommend the stuffed cabbage to first timers, while George offers the New Yorker sandwich. Josh’s favorite is the baked cod.
The restaurant is celebrating its longevity in the Valley by celebrating Miracle Mile Deli Day on Wednesday, May 10. On that day, 20 percent of the proceeds from that day’s sales will go to Feeding Matters, a local nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of pediatric feeding struggles. Also, from noon to 8 p.m., every hour, a Miracle Mile $100 gift card will be given away.
Miracle Mile Delicatessen, 4433 N. 16th Street, Phoenix, 602.776.0992, miraclemiledeli.com.