“What can I get for ya?” Tony Silvoy shouted across a barrier stacked high with every type of chip, doodle and cracker imaginable. Behind the wall of grease and salt was a bald floating head with thick-framed glasses and a wide smile. A boy in line, decked out head-to-toe in Lehigh apparel, spoke up.
“I’ll take a Strugglebus, please.”
To an outsider, the exchange would sound like gibberish. The fluorescent menu behind the counter bears no such name. But to a Lehigh student, it’s an ordinary occurrence. Within minutes, the student was biting into a bacon, ham and cheddar jack cheese sandwich.
The Goosey Gander Deli, more commonly known as The Goose, has been one of Lehigh’s staple lunch destinations for almost 37 years. As the community has grown and transformed around the Fourth Street deli, The Goose’s presence has remained practice.
“We haven’t changed at all since 1979,” said Tony, owner of The Goose, though he prefers to simply be called a “sandwich maker.”
“We’ve been making sandwiches since the day we opened, and that’s what we continue to do to this day.”
The Goose has evolved, if only slightly. Several years ago, Tony introduced an option for customers to tweet their orders to @thegoosemen, which he said has definitely helped business.
“If people are in a hurry, they’re in and out in no time,” Tony said. “I’m glad Domino’s, after four and a half years, finally caught up to the small businesses.”
Since 2007, student clubs and organizations have teamed up with the deli to “Keep the Goose Open Late” in order to fundraise for their philanthropies. A man who loves to help the community in any way possible, Tony rarely denies a request to keep the deli open late.
“We used to fundraise with the student groups during the day during normal lunch hours, but we didn’t know who were our friends and who were friends of the organization,” Tony said. “So we started keeping it open late instead.”
The organizations sponsor keeping The Goose open after regular hours from 4 to 7 p.m., and their members either help to prepare and serve the food or draw in a crowd. At the end of the night, the student groups receive a percentage of the proceeds, but the exact amount varies based on the amount of money raised within the three hours.
“The sandwiches are a good price, and it’s a fun place to be,” said Sarah Segovia, ’17, taking her best guess as to what the secret may be. “There’s Lehigh paraphernalia everywhere, and Tony is the man.”
Deb Silvoy, Tony’s wife and the matriarch of the business, thinks she might know the reason for The Goose’s popularity.
“I think the friendly faces and good costumer relations are what keep people coming back,” she said. “A lot of times you go into restaurants and people aren’t smiling, people aren’t talking and sometimes they’re just outright nasty. Tony and I personally steer toward the places where people are nice to us, so that’s why we try to be inviting to everyone who comes in.”
Tony’s booming greeting to every person who walks through the door contributes to the atmosphere, as well as the way he refers to every costumer as his “friend” with utter genuineness. The existence of a secret menu, filled with sandwiches as unique as their names — Krabby Patties, Anakins and Wambulances make up the group, among dozens of others.
When asked about the not-so-well-kept secret, Tony gave little up.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Tony said with a wink. “What secret menu?”
This story is the first in a series of restaurant staples around Lehigh’s campus. Next week’s issue will feature Sal’s Brick Oven Pizza.