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Westi’s owners sell store to Sullivan’s chef

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Steve Celt, 38, who runs the store his German immigrant father-in-law opened in 1967, said the business is being sold to a chef at C.J. Sullivan's across Bell Boulevard.

Celt did not know whether the chef, Kenny Pulomena, would keep the name Westi's but said the store would offer more gourmet-prepared foods to take out. Pulomena could not be reached for comment.

"The business has been around so long, it needs a face-lift, a new image," said Celt, whose family is moving to Florida.

"My kids aren't cold weather fans," said Celt, who planned to go into the restaurant business in Florida.

Westi's was set to close right after Easter, said Celt, and would remain closed for two weeks during renovations. Celt said the new owner would put in more freezers and refrigerators for prepared foods.

He said business had been slow as of late, and the commute from his home in eastern Long Island was too long. His father-in-law, Ossi Maiwald, was also still battling cancer, he said.

"It needs a local guy with local flair," he said of Westi's. "It's run its course."

Celt said many of the shop's longest customers had retired, moved or died. Items such as head cheese and liverwurst were less and less popular; raw meat was not selling as well because of the relative inconvenience of cooking it.

"There's more urgency to take out," he said. "Who has time anymore?"

Bayside Business Association President Judy Limpert called the closure of the old Westi's a shame but said "Bell Boulevard does need a really good deli."

"Maybe they're on the right track with that take-out," she said. "Let's see how it goes."

The change at Westi's was not the only one on the horizon for Bell Boulevard. The Orion telephone card company, also known as OTC, was consolidating some of its 14 locations on or around Bell, said Limpert, and a wireless store next to Century 21 Benjamin Bayside was set to turn into a Dunkin' Donuts.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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