After more than a century in the soup-and-sandwich business, it’s no surprise that Fossati’s Delicatessen serves as Victoria’s midday mainstay.
Classic Italian Food
Customers walking through the storied doors can choose from classics such as chicken salad and apple crisp, as well as lasagna, chicken spaghetti soup and other dishes traced to the family’s Italian heritage. But it’s not just locals who keep the business bustling.
“We’ve had people from all over come because they’ve read about it,” says co-manager Cathy Wyatt, whose grandfather founded the restaurant after arriving in the United States via Ellis Island, N.Y., in 1880. “We have a lot of pride in it.”
Deli Open for Lunch
The iconic deli, open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., is the oldest in Texas, established in 1882 and moved to its current location in 1895. Around 1910, it passed from patriarch Frank Napoleon Fossati to his oldest son. Caeton “Kite” Foassati managed the deli until retiring in the late 1960s, when he leased the business to operators outside the family.
When the city council moved to tear down the deteriorating deli for a parking lot, though, the Fossati family decided it was time to reclaim their grandfather’s legacy.
“We pooled our money and had the place renovated, and my sister and I decided we’d manage it,” Wyatt says. “We didn’t have any experience, but we decided we’d give it a go.”
That was in 1987, and Cathy and her twin sister, Therese Bomersbach, haven’t looked back.
The first few years were challenging, and more than once it looked as though Fossati’s might not survive. But the sisters learned a few lessons along the way, such as the importance of making the food themselves and how much customers enjoy delivery.
“We have to work hard here, but whenever we get a little down, we think of my grandfather and my uncle, and we think, no matter what, we’re going to hang in there,” says Bomersbach. “It makes us feel good because we have people that come and tell us that they’re so glad that we’ve kept it going.”
John Griffin, a Victoria attorney, is one of those people. He grew up in a nearby town and remembers visiting the restaurant on weekend nights with his parents to hear the live piano music. When Wyatt and Bomersbach took over the restaurant and opened it up to private dinner parties, Griffin began holding annual company functions there.
“Our office has been having Christmas parties there for something like 20 years, because of the historic nature of the place, the long bar, the connection to our past,” Griffin says. “It’s an institution here in Victoria – and one we can be proud of.”
Fossati’s, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, holds bragging rights for numerous political meetings over the years and even a concert by Willie Nelson.
“It’s just become an important part of our heritage,” Wyatt says. “When people hear our last name, Fossati, they immediately think of this place because so many people have come here.”
If you go check the time before heading out the door – the deli is open for lunch weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Read about more restaurants in Victoria, TX.