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Mantua Township committee recognizes local business and heart health

Two proclamations were awarded at the Feb. 5 meeting

Joe Colli and his son Joey Jr.

It is a common belief that council meetings are nothing but political talk and tax chat. Well, the Feb. 5 Township of Mantua committee meeting was, in part, a celebration of local business and healthy hearts.

In 2017, NJ.com did its annual Best of New Jersey series and the Mantua hot spot Pal Joey’s Deli was dubbed with best hoagie in Gloucester County. Joseph Colli owns Pal Joey’s.

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Emboldened by the attention on a local shop, the Mantua Township committee decided to recognize Pal Joey’s Deli in its own way, a proclamation.

By definition, a proclamation is a public or official announcement, especially one dealing with a matter of great importance. Well, this is South Jersey, so hoagies count as something with “great importance.”

“It’s a proclamation that was long overdue,” Deputy Mayor Robert Zimmerman said.

At the meeting, Mayor Peter Scirrotto read from the proclamation, “Joe Colli started out driving a truck selling lunch meats to various food establishments and continued for 27 years.”

To accept the proclamation, Colli stood at the front of the room with his son Joey, whom the deli is named after.

Colli explained the deli got its name from a frequent conversation he used to have with his son: “I used to tease him when he was little, I’d say, ‘Who is my best pal?’ and he’d say, ‘I’m your pal, dad.”

After driving trucks and selling meat, Colli worked for his brother Rich, the owner of Primo Hoagies. For one year, he did this until he thought about opening his own shop.

For 13 years, Pal Joey’s Deli’s storefront sat in Pitman. At the end of 2007, the Colli family moved operations to Mantua. Now Colli, his wife Debbie and their children Denine, Debbie, Dawn, Kelly, Joey and a few other local employees run the shop that crafts hoagies with top-notch ingredients, such as Philly famous Sarcone’s Bakery bread, and humbly claims more than 10 awards. “Pal” Joey works full-time at the deli.

“I’m a work-aholic,” Colli half-jokingly said when explaining why at the age of 73 he continues to run a deli. “You make a lot of friends doing this.”

The owner of the South Jersey deli — a deli rich with Frank Sinatra memorabilia — said he will stick around until he gives into his wife’s urges to go down the Shore more.

“[Colli]’s been a resident and business owner in the township for many years and we’ve always proudly supported him and his family,” Zimmerman said.

Support for this shop is clear as Pal Joey’s made an upward of 1,200 hoagies on Super Bowl Sunday.

American Heart Month

Heart disease is no joke, but the committee and public in attendance couldn’t help but chuckle that, during the same meeting Pal Joey’s Deli was recognized, the committee also designated February as American Heart Month in the Township of Mantua.

“We’ve got turkey hoagies, too,” Colli joked.

The committee chose to recognize February as American Heart Month in Mantua as a way to increase the awareness of heart disease and its effects on an individual and that individual’s loved ones.

Zimmerman presented a proclamation to local man John Ricketts. Both Zimmerman and Ricketts are survivors of heart disease. Zimmerman in 2012 and Ricketts in 2017 underwent coronary artery bypass surgery.

Zimmerman explained that too many people ignore or do not know the signs of heart disease, the leading cause of death of United States citizens, according to Medical News Today.

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