Robbie Massores took the reins of Good-to-Go Deli not quite three years ago, but his many good deeds have already created an impact on his adopted community. In November, the Chamber of Commerce will honor Good-to-Go Deli as North Branford's 2010 Business of the Year.
It's hard to quantify all that Robbie and his wife Kelly do toward the betterment of North Branford. Many dollars have been raised by events like the recent Diamond Club Saturdays (when a percentage of a month of Saturday sales aided the town's baseball boosters). The deli's summertime cook-outs create great gatherings with proceed portions benefiting the Fire Department, senior citizens, and other town programs.
Dennis Pannone, co-chair of the Potato and Corn Festival's namesake food tent, said Robbie's generous donation of his king-sized cooker makes it possible to serve thousands over three days by cooking up 600 ears of corn and 600 potatoes at a clip.
"The first year we were there, we set up a booth selling food and I was watching them struggle to cook the corn and potatoes," recalls Robbie. "I knew Pete [Dayo, tent co-chair,] and Pam Gery, [the event organizer,] and the girls from her office. They support us, so I thought we should support them."
Fire Department Ambulance Company 4 Captain Laura Burich recounts how, a few weeks ago, Robbie threw open the doors of Good-to-Go's kitchen to save the company's annual ChiliFest fundraiser after event organizers learned contestants would need to cook in a commercial kitchen.
"No one else would do this for us," says Laura, adding, "Robbie is always there to give us a hand. He's always given back to the fire department and the community on countless levels."
"They needed a place…We have a place. They come in here all the time," says Robbie.
Giving back to the community was modeled by Robbie's father Paul Massores, a Wallingford Elks Club member, and father-in-law Jim Groth, former proprietor of Wallingford's Mountainside Resort.
"My dad was always cooking for kids," says Robbie, a Wallingford native. "My father-in-law also did a tremendous amount of community service, especially in the Meriden area."
Robbie began his lifelong love of cooking as an entry-level Mountainside employee while in high school. He not only met his future wife, but also took advantage of on-the-job kitchen training.
"I started off peeling potatoes and carrots. The chef really piqued my interest in cooking and I took classes in the food service program at Lyman Hall [High School]. I stayed in the restaurant business after high school and once I graduated college, I worked in Rhode Island under a master chef for a year."
At 21, Robbie became Mountainside's executive chef. Eight years on the job gave him priceless experience in cooking exquisite meals-he regularly introduces "international fusion" dishes to Good-to-Go's menu-as well as in large-scale commercial restaurant purchasing and management practices.
After the post-9/11 economic squeeze eventually caused the family to end its Mountainside run, Robbie worked with local catering companies. That's how he met the brother of Good-to-Go's former owner, who told him the deli owner was looking to turn over the keys to "someone who would make sure the place would carry on," says Robbie.
Since Robbie and Kelly's arrival, Go-to-Go Deli has not only carried on, but it's also taken on a life of its own. Open for breakfast and lunch six days weekly (Sunday is family day with children Maya, 4, and Maggie, 2), the little restaurant on Route 22 (531 Forest Road) is a place where town leaders blend with community members, including daily regulars like the much-appreciated St. Monica's "church ladies," says Robbie.
"This town reminds me of Mayberry. I love the feel of it. Everybody in town seems to stop in."