When George Neira was a kid, he spent his summers riding the Giant Wheel and the Whip at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey.
He also loved his Jersey subs — which are not to be confused with hoagies or grinders or any other sandwich on a long roll.
"In Jersey, they are subs," says Neira, who still has a noticeable North Jersey accent despite living in Lancaster County for 30 years.
To relive his Jersey days, the Teaneck native was a big fan of the little sub shop in the center of East Petersburg, known as Fuhgeddaboudit. (In New Jersey lingo, that means "Forget about it," by the way. )
There he and his wife, Terri, were regulars, ordering subs like classic Italian and turkey. One day, they stopped at the shop and it was closed. They came back again, and it was still closed. Another time, still closed. So, Neira did what any true Jerseyite would do. He bought the place.
"I wanted something to do when I retire," says Neira, who works for a paper company in York. His daughter, Kate Neira, manages his new sub shop, with he and his wife working on evenings and weekends in the family business.
They decided to rename the shop at 5982 Main St. in East Petersburg. So it became George's Jersey Deli, a much easier name to spell and remember than Fuhgeddaboudit.
Since Neira had such fond memories of the New Jersey institution of Palisades Park, they decided to name all the sandwiches for rides at his beloved childhood amusement park. The walls are decorated with posters of Palisades Park, and there is a big list featuring the rides and their namesake subs.
"When I was very young, we lived in New York, off Broadway at 136th Street," says Neira.
Palisades Amusement Park was right across the Hudson River, and he spent many summer days riding the Palisades Giant, the Super Himalayan, the Cyclone and the Big Bopper. He also swam in the saltwater pool, which was believed to be the largest in the world.
Palisades Amusement Park operated from 1898 to 1971. There was even a song, "Palisades Park," written by Chuck Barris. More than 40 years after the park closed forever, Neira can still remember his sadness. It had been a huge part of his life.
"I recall driving across the Hudson River and seeing the large clock and advertisements for Palisades Amusement Park. It was the place where so many of my childhood memories were created," says Neira.
At his little slice of New Jersey in East Petersburg, Neira has named the subs for many of the Palisades rides. The Giant Wheel is a classic Italian sub with capicola, Genoa salami and aged sharp provolone. The Whip is a ham sub with mild provolone. The Skyride is a roasted turkey sub with provolone. The Jungleland is a roast beef sub with mild provolone. The Thriller is a chicken salad with mild provolone. Then there is the Big Bopper, an Italian sub with salami, capicola, hot supressata, aged sharp provolone and hot oil.
There are 19 Jersey-style subs in all, including the Strato Ship, Skyrocket, Caterpillar and Cyclone. They come on seeded hard rolls or unseeded soft rolls, fresh from Liscio's Bakery in Philadelphia. Meats and cheeses come from Freda's and include classic Jersey-style fresh cut brisket pastrami. All subs come with lettuce, tomato, onion, oil, mayo and spices. Extras include red roasted peppers, hot banana peppers, pickles, hot cherry peppers, sweet peppers and black olives. They also do catering, fundraising and gift certificates.
"I don't think there is anything better than a New Jersey sub with fresh meats, cheeses and a great roll. I could live on nothing else," says Neira.
He's hoping other Jerseyites and sub fans will feel the same.
Location: 5982 Main St., East Petersburg
Hours: Open Mon.- Fri. 11 a.m.- 7 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., closed Sunday
Prices: Wild Cat BLT $5.50; Cyclone pastrami on seeded rye $6.25; Caterpillar veggie sub $6.50; Giant Coaster Italian sub $7.25; Big Bopper $7.75