If it’s piled-high pastrami or a tongue sandwich you’re craving, Portlanders, you’ll just have to bite the bullet and drive six miles to Westbrook.

That’s where Full Belly Deli will be re-opening in mid-May, in the spot formerly occupied by Blue Burrito at 652 Main St. The business will be renamed Rosen’s Deli.

All the frenzied online speculation from the Maine food press and fans that the popular Jewish deli that closed in January would be moving to the Old Port turned out not to be true, thanks to high rents and perhaps some unrealistic expectations. One local blogger declared that the deli would definitely reopen on the corner of Market and Fore streets, in the former home of Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt. But that was just one of several places David Rosen, whose family owns Full Belly Deli, was considering.

“In the Old Port, it was really hard to find a new place,” Rosen said. “You’re talking $5,000 a month for 1,500 square feet. It’s hard to make that many sandwiches.”

Rosen was also concerned for his most-loyal customers, many of whom are older and not likely to trek down to the Old Port for a sandwich. The new Westbrook location has plenty of on-street parking, and it is handicapped accessible.

Rosen said that in the Old Port scenario, the plan was that he would run the kitchen for a couple of business partners. But when they couldn’t find a good location, he said, the whole deal fell through.


Instead, it will remain a family business. Rosen and his wife, Arren, live in Westbrook and were driving down Main Street one day when they saw the “For Rent” sign at what became their new location.

With 32 to 34 seats, the space has about the same number of seats as the old deli, and a large kitchen. It also has a small bar area that will be converted into a dessert corner called “The Cookie Cave.” Arren Rosen will make cheesecakes, carrot cakes and other baked goods for sale in that area.

And to put other speculation to rest: The deli will not be serving alcohol.

Rosen said the menu will be the same, but scaled back to 10-12 sandwiches. They’ll still serve Reubens, homemade knishes, potato pancakes, chicken soup, matzo balls and other Jewish specialties.

“We will have tongue and chopped liver, absolutely,” Rosen said.

Rosen said they are hoping to open the second week in May, but realistically it will probably be the third week.

Why the new name? Rosen and his wife just wanted a change. (The name Full Belly Deli will still be on the menu, and maybe on some T-shirts.)

“For the past 30 years, I’ve been the deli guy,” Rosen said. “I just walk around the streets and people say ‘Hey, there’s the deli guy.’ I wanted to get away from Full Belly Deli a little and let the Rosen name carry us. It’s been David Rosen’s Full Belly Deli for all those years. A little bit of change can do good.”

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