Tom Huppert served big and tasty sandwiches at Wallaby's.
Heard about America's economic recession? It's the reason Wallaby's Delicatessen closed Feb. 22.
"The bottom line is all this talk about recession," Wallaby's owner Tom Huppert told me recently. "For us it really started last spring. Last summer was our worst in 20 years. We were looking forward to bouncing back in the fall. But we never bounced back. September and October were our worst months in history, too."
Huppert said that when he closed, business at his South Tacoma Way deli was down 25 percent from the year before.
"I think the whole thing started with the rise in gasoline prices," Huppert said. "Suddenly, things like buying lunch and coffee become luxuries."
As he watched his business slow down, Huppert said he was "slower yet to do something about it. I probably should have done this a couple of months ago. I'm going to re-invent myself. It's not going to be a restaurant. It's so labor intensive and such a pressure cooker."
Huppert sold cars for 15 years before buying Wallaby's from his brother, Dave, in 1999. Dave Huppert had owned Wallaby's since 1989. After selling, he worked for his brother until last year. The brothers had a dispute. Dave Huppert, who cooked weekend breakfast, quit. Wallaby's never served breakfast after that.
Dave Huppert told me recently that he's looking to open a breakfast restaurant.