Written by Adrienne Compton
Mom’s Deli, a small, Italian, mom and pop shop in the city of St.Louis has visitors who come in from all across the United States.
Mom’s Deli began after the original business of “Mom’s son,” Charles Vago, closed. Charles Vago used to be an owner of a small convenience store, called The Store, but because of the creation of Highway 44, the connector from the city of St. Louis to West County, the store was forced to shut down because the highway planned to run through the location of the store.
Charles and his wife, Carol Vago, immediately started looking for a place to build their new business, and they found themselves in the bottom of a duplex on Jamieson Avenue.
The official opening of Mom’s Deli was June 18th, 1977. Charles Vago named the deli in honor of his mother. With a great amount love for his family and love for his business, Charles had intentions of handing it down to his daughter. His daughter, Denise Vago, had to take the reins sooner than expected when Charles Vago passed away suddenly on August 29th, 2017.
Current employee Maggie Mckenna said, “after 6 plus years of working for Charlie, he made me, and all of his employees, feel like we were a part of his family.”
The family aspect is what makes this place so special, said Mckenna. It is common for customers to come in and ask how Charles Vago’s mother is doing, how the current owner is, or if all of the employees are family.
Mom’s Deli is most famous for their “Mom’s Special.” Owner, Denise Vago said, “I grew up in the deli, I occasionally have it for a snack to have a flashback to my childhood.”
The Mom’s Special consists of white turkey breasts, ham, roast beef, Munchee cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and handmade thousand island dressing.
The famous Munchee cheese and thousand island dressing are what leaves the customers wanting more. Munchee cheese is “a cremier, sweet, mild, white american cheese,” Vago said. The thousand island dressing is a family recipe, and it can’t be shared with others.
Many customers have a specific order that they come in for, but the customers that visit a few times randomly throughout the year still come in to get their Mom’s Special fix.
Frequent customer, Mike Bertolini, used to be a common Mom’s Special consumer, but not too long after his visits he expanded his horizons. “I love the cookies, but nobody else orders a frozen one like me. That’s the best way to do it.” Bertolini said.
Bertolini has been coming into Mom’s Deli since he made the decision to move back to St. Louis 21 years ago. “I love the girls that work at Mom’s, they see me and send me a smile, and that’s what I look forward to every day.”
The deli also has many customers that come in just to shop. Mom’s Deli is also a local convenience store for many people. There is an array of beer, wine, chips, candy, ice cream and other Italian food necessities.
“We see a lot of customers that live nearby, and they just come in to grab a few groceries or drinks.” Mckenna said.
Mom’s Deli is also very popular for their party sandwiches and catering menu. The deli offers 4 foot, 3 foot and 2 footlong sandwiches. With the sandwiches, Mom’s Deli also offers veggie trays, hot wings, pastas and other party favorites.
The Vago family loves the company, and has high hopes of seeing customers walking through their door for years to come.