18th Street Deli

Fresh food distributor accesses capital through MEDC’s Collateral Support Program to expand its Hamtramck-based operations

Operating out of Hamtramck, Mich., 18th Street Deli has served as a food distributor for over 35 years, assembling, packaging and distributing a variety of ready to eat meals and snack items.

As 18th Street Deli grew a reputation for quality food products, the company realized there was a market for private label products for other operations. A new division called NuVue Foods, which offers a selection of sandwiches and prepared foods for vending, micro markets, onsite cafeterias, and convenience stores, was born to meet that need.

18th Street Deli moved from its location on Joseph Campau to a larger facility in Hamtramck in 2006, expanding its ability to accommodate the growing range of products. The expansion allowed the company to attract new customers, including accounts with 7-Eleven, Canteen and Global Foods. The company has now grown its operations to three divisions: producing fresh food for 7-Eleven stores throughout Michigan and northern Ohio, delivered daily; a business dining division serving workplaces through micro markets, and feeding 100,000 people a week across several states; and a frozen line of food that is shipped across the country to various convenience and box store distributors.

Expanding to its current building allowed the company to employ nearly 150 people, and its latest expansion is anticipated to create an additional 50 to 100 well-paying jobs. President and CEO David Salerno is proud to support local as an employer and member of the community for many years, offering flexible schedules at entry and mid-level positions. Salerno calls it a win-win situation for the company and the community.

18th Street Deli was scheduled for its second expansion when COVID-19 hit. The company worked with Level One Bank and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to secure funds for growth.

In September 2021, MEDC’s Capital Access Collateral Support Program provided the company with $674,648 in collateral support on a construction note for $1,352,000, allowing 18th Street Deli to purchase equipment and install a new freezer to increase capacity. Capital Access also provided $149,700 in collateral support on a $400,000 working capital line.

Keith Lublin, vice president of Level One Bank, says that while 18th Street Deli’s cash flow was solid even during the pandemic, the company’s loan request would have encountered difficulty without the MEDC’s Collateral Support Program.

“The Capital Access folks at the MEDC were so helpful each step of the way,” Lublin said. “Real human beings promptly picked up the phone whenever I’d call. They were happy to educate me about any part of the program I didn’t understand. Their structure was flexible and easily adapted to the client’s needs, their approval process was fast and easy and closing was simple. I would heartily endorse the MEDC to any commercial lender looking for additional collateral support for an otherwise excellent client.”

Though the pandemic caused some detours for the business, 18th Street Deli is still experiencing growth as it looks toward the future. The company is amid its second expansion, doubling the footprint on its current property, and going into 2022 with a brand refresh. That includes operating under a new name, 18th Street Fresh, to reflect the broader range of products the company has to offer beyond deli items. NuVue Foods continues to produce private label products for the company.

“Our growth is continuing to happen, and our growth is happening faster than expected,” said Salerno. “Based on the interest in our product and the continued growth that we're experiencing, we've actively started to look for spaces – whether it be a building already built or land – we’re already starting to look for the next expansion. We’re pretty confident that the sales we're experiencing and forecasting are going to demand it. We're going to need it to fill those orders.”

Learn more about the ways MEDC supports Michigan’s small businesses through its Capital Access programming at https://www.michiganbusiness.org/services/access-capital/.