If you’ve seen one New York City deli, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen them all.
They’re staples on street corners across the five boroughs, serving no-frills coffee and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches to New Yorkers in search of a quick, affordable meal.
But at Datz Deli in Queens, customers line up for hours to get a taste of owner Joshua Dat’s elevation of classic deli offerings.
The 31-year-old opened Datz Deli in December 2022 with the idea to spice up quintessential New York staples like a Jamaican beef patty with flavors from his dad’s native Guyana.
“I wanted to be different,” Dat says on the latest installment of CNBC Make It’s “On The Job” series. “I wanted to give people something new to try.”
Visitors to the Queens establishment queue up for the DatMacPatty, a Caribbean-style beef patty stuffed with homemade macaroni and cheese. Other patty varietals feature stewed and shredded oxtail meat, beef curry and jerk chicken.
Side dishes on the menu include fried plantains, jalapeno poppers and spinach. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, Dat offers fried Oreos with an option of caramel or chocolate drizzle.
The deli has developed a cult following on social media, boasting over 50,000 followers on Instagram and countless TikToks spotlighting its one-of-a-kind offerings.
The popularity has turned the family business — Dat employs his parents, siblings, uncle, nephew and a few close friends — into a financial success. Datz Deli brought in a combined $300,000 in May and June, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It, and is projected to bring in $1.2 million in 2023.
“I’m going to have to pay around $355,000 in taxes if that is the case,” Dat tells Make It. “You know what they say: more money, more problems.”
But it’s not all profit. In addition to the $3,100 rent bill, Dat estimates that he spends $15,000 each month on oxtail alone. He pays himself and his brother $1,500 per week, while his crew members take home between $800 and $1,000.
Its growth that has surpassed any expectations Dat had when he made his initial $70,000 investment — $60,000 for the lease on the property and $10,000 for startup costs and ingredients — to get the business off the ground.
But Dat and his family haven’t let the success get to their heads.
“We’ve always been hard-working people,” he says. “It’s all just such a humbling experience and such a blessing. I’m so grateful for everything happening.”
For the full story of how Dat and his family made their beef patty dreams a reality, check out the latest installment of CNBC Make It’s “On The Job” above.
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