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Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays there's a brand new place in Coeur d'Alene to grab a sandwich, chips, a pickle and even a "made from scratch" peanut butter cookie - all for six, maybe seven bucks. Vinny's Deli.

Like any deli anywhere from New York to L.A., Chicago to, well, Coeur d'Alene, everything at Vinny's is fresh, fast and made-to-order. Beyond that, Vinny's is not your normal deli.

Starting with its name. After all, we're not talking Vinny from Flatbush, but "Vinny," as in "Vincent." And it's "Vincent" as in "St. Vincent" as in "St Vincent de Paul Society of North Idaho" which launched the business a couple of months back.

But the differences don't stop there. Take a look at the staff at Vinny's. Open for business since 1946, the Society is now one of HUD's most important partners and the largest non-profit provider of housing for the low-income in northern Idaho, with 68 permanent units for the elderly, 70 for families and 42 for the homeless.

The Society has a particular interest in helping people with mental illness. With an almost $1.3 million Section 811 grant from HUD, in fact, last summer it opened the 14-unit Lynn Peterson House to provide permanent housing and supportive services to low-income people with mental illness.

[Photo: Sand-work at Vinny's.]
Sand-work at Vinny's.

And today, some of the residents of Lynn Peterson are behind the counter at Vinny's, loading the turkey and mayo on rye and delivering "deli-cious" lunches to nearby businesses like the Department of Labor and the Coeur d'Alene school district. "There are times when people don't think they can do anything," Vinny's manager Angie Wolfinger told The Spokesman Review of Spokane "We're here to say, 'Yes, you can.'"

When Vinny's first opened its doors a couple of months ago, it was making eight to ten sandwiches a day. Now it's up to 25 and has the capacity, says Reed, to serve 50.

The reason's simple. The more sandwiches it sells, the more support that Vinny's can, along with the Society's Thrift Store, plow into supporting the Hargar Club House. The Club House is yet another Society venture, a place where the homeless in Coeur d'Alene can go during the day to make connections and get help and, in the coldest months, stay warm. When "you can't take it no more and you feel like you're going to fall into a depression and can't get up no more," one regular Hargar House told the Coeur d'Alene Press, "you come here." It is, she added, "an anchor for me to hold onto."

At Vinny's and the Society, after all, it's not about profits, but about proceeds and the programs it can deliver, the people they can support. And, of course, about good sandwiches at a great price. No wonder, then, says Reed, "We've got to get more orders."


Content Archived: December 2, 2013

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