For folks living downtown, students and Kingstonians alike, John’s Deli is a treasured staple. I was lucky enough to live next door to John’s for almost my entire undergrad and my roommates and I went there often. We were even on a first name basis with some of the people who worked there – but this isn’t a unique story. Although they have so much to offer, one of the first things that comes to mind when John’s is mentioned is how friendly the people who work there are. Ownership has changed over the years but this quality hasn’t faltered.
John’s Deli offers a huge variety of items, making it an excellent alternative to the large, corporately owned grocery stores in town. Their produce is delivered daily and over 50% of it is organic. Not all items are local but they do provide locally sourced products when they can. I have to admit, the produce isn’t my favourite part of John’s. It’s not always as fresh as it could be and it’s a bit pricey compared to other stores nearby. However, sometimes this is the price you pay for great customer service and a speedy shopping trip. I rarely stand in line at John’s which is more than I can say for any of our other downtown stores.
In addition to a plethora of produce, John’s offers a wide variety of sundry items, canned goods, local cheeses, Fred’s Bread, jams and jellies from Waupoos Winery, crackers and other snacks (gluten-free and otherwise), a variety of beverages, fair trade items including a wide selection of Multatuli coffees and you can even pick up your toilet paper and toothpaste while you’re there. John’s truly offers a one-stop shopping experience.
In the back of the store is John’s claim to fame: the deli. The staff in the deli are very knowledgeable of the various cuts they offer and can help you make the right choice – and cook it to perfection. The deli provides a large variety of marinated meats ready for the grill as well as special cuts such as London Broils and Frenched Local Lamb Racks. All the lamb they sell is 100% local and the beef if 90% locally sourced.
I have tried many of their pre-made items from the pepper steak to chicken wings and I’ve never been disappointed. One year we ordered our Thanksgiving turkey from John’s and were proud to say that it was raised near Kingston. Aside from the excellent cuts of meat, the deli staff are some of the most friendly people you’ll meet.
Just next to the meat counter is a student’s dream come true. John’s kitchen staff prepares hot, ready to go meals on a daily basis and the prices are close to unbelievable. Personal sized prepared meals offer a healthy, homemade alternative to homesick students and range in price from about $3.50-$5.00. There is also a wide selection of salads to choose from. The hot food counter offers a variety of freshly made items such as roasted potatoes, cabbage rolls, various cuts of roasted chicken, shepherd’s pie, lasagna and more. Many of these tasty treats are also included in weekly specials, which you can keep up with here.
When you mention John’s Deli to a Kingstonian, their eyes always light up. The prices on items not made on site tend to be a bit on the high side but that isn’t enough to keep people away. The quality of their meat and prepared food is worth the extra few cents on a can of chick peas and honestly, the speedy and friendly service will always keep me coming back.