Am I a Food Hero? Damn right I am!

Last week we posted about a terrific initiative from GrubHub to recognize the Mom & Pop operators of the world called ‘Are You a Food Hero?’ As with many of the pieces we publish, a reader posted their own thoughts on what it means to be a food hero. 

The operator in question is Neal Botenstein from Chompies NY Delis of Arizona. Neal took pains to describe the myriad of offerings from his restaurants, anywhere matzo balls to knishes. Being the nice Jewish Boy that I am, I couldn’t help salivating at his descriptions of his brisket, bagels, challah and latkes. 

Equally as interesting is the pains Neal took to explain that for 38 years he and his team have been working this trade. His team includes a vice president of operations with 30 years on his team and kitchen managers with more than 20 years as well.

Of course we could not be getting ready to open our 5th location if it wasn’t for excellent personnel that have been working for us for long periods of time. Our VP of Operations has been with us for over 30 plus years. We have KM’s that have been working for us over 20 plus years! Enough said!!!
— Neal Botenstein, Chompies NY Delis operator

I am often in awe of the stamina and dedication so many of our subscribers exhibit in their everyday execution. While I like the idea of a “Food Hero”, I believe it limits the definition of what a hero is in our business. We are all part of a unique brotherhood/sisterhood of hard working, generous, creative and empathetic folks that deliver great food, beverage, entertainment and atmosphere to millions of people. Everyday.

We at The Rail, in our effort to understand these extraordinary characteristics, have coined a phrase for those in the biz and “in the know” as our subscribers. 

We call you Citizens of the Rail

Citizenship in this community comes at a price. We want to hear from you. We aren’t afraid to be criticized and we welcome your opinions. So you can comment on any post we publish or reach out to me individually at

Either way, you have a voice here that we are 100% confident you won’t have elsewhere. If you are an aspiring blogger, angry at an opinion we shared or ready to burst forth with your own ideas, please share and we’ll give you a home in which to do it. 

Welcome home, Citizens of the Rail!