Tahoe Keys Deli sold to local resident after 37 years | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Keys Deli sold to local resident after 37 years

Miranda Jacobson

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – After owning the Tahoe Keys Deli for 37 years, South Lake Tahoe local and business owner John Galea is moving onto a different path in life and selling his shop.

“It’s just time to go see the world a little bit,” said Galea. “It was time. We did a good ride.”

Tahoe Keys Deli has been operating since 1984 and was previously owned by John Galea. Now, Luke Johnson is the proud owner.
John Galea

The store was originally a liquor shop in town 1984, but Galea decided to move across the street and start his own deli, which was a hit among locals. He also did programs with the local high schools that helped provide lunch to students at a discounted price. He also was able to provide a fun and safe place for the kids to eat their lunches.

“What it did was it created such a bond with these kids that now they bring their kids in and their kids started bringing their kids in there,” said Galea. “So that kind of just kept going on and on. To this day, they still come home to the deli. That’s one of the first places they stop to because it’s there that’s what they did when they were a kid.”

The deli was sold to local Luke Johnson, someone who used to eat at the deli when he was a kid himself.

“I’ve been going to Tahoe Keys Deli since before I can remember,” said Johnson.

After moving down to the Bay Area in 2011 and getting a corporate job, Johnson had decided he wanted to get back to his childhood roots to find happiness. When he and his husband moved back to the El Dorado County in March earlier this year and saw the deli was for sale, he knew it was the perfect fit for him.

The store will stay the same, with the addition of some hot sandwiches and a potential online ordering system.
John Galea

“I figured it was probably the best opportunity for me to take something over that I know is an icon and a staple in the South Lake community,” said Johnson.

Johnson plans to stay true to the heart of the deli through keeping much of the place the same, with the addition of a few new hot sandwiches.

“It’s pretty much the exact same since 1984,” said Johnson. “We actually still use the same meat slicer that John [Galea] used when he took over the business in 1984. So my philosophy is, ‘If it’s not broken, why would I fix it?’ I think everything that we currently sell and currently offer is really popular, and it’s proven the test of time… We’re really focused on maintaining the integrity of the product that we know is a solid product.”

Along with being excited to continue on the legacy of the deli, Johnson is thrilled to be back in his home town.

“I absolutely love seeing people that I’ve known my entire life,” said Johnson. “Everyday I have a lot of the same customers, and coming back from they Bay Area to Tahoe, you see Tahoe is such a community, and I’ve not been disappointed by the community that we have here.”

Tahoe Keys Deli is located at 2301 Lake Tahoe Blvd. For more information, visit http://www.tkdeli.com.

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