Attman’s Potomac Deli: A Storied History of Family and Incredible Food

Javier Vasquez, left, Sam Lerner, center, and Oscar Lugo, right, are key members
of the Attman’s Deli team. Photo by Lloyd Wolf

Attman’s Deli in Potomac has been a staple of the community for years, with General Manager Sam Lerner at the helm. Lerner has been in the food business for the past 48 years and became a part of Attman’s in 2017, when he sold his previous business, Potomac Village Deli, to Attman’s. Lerner says the business thrives on strong community connections, a great staff and amazing food.

Montgomery Magazine: What do you attribute in the way you run your business to having award-winning service?

Sam Lerner: Honestly, I’m going give all the credit to my staff. They’re absolutely fantastic. They do everything I ask them to do. They do it well and they’re friendly. The customers love them and they make me look good. I set the parameters, and they follow everything just like a head coach. You can have the best game plan in the world, but if the players don’t execute, you don’t win anything, and you’re fired the next year.

Q: What’s a deli item that you recommend people try?

A: I say a Reuben is probably one of our more popular items. I think any deli would pretty much tell you that the Reubens are number one sellers. It’s a grilled sandwich, the bread is nice and crispy, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and corned beef – it’s amazing. It’s kind of hard to go wrong with it.

Q: Why do you believe that people love Attman’s so much?

A: Because we treat them like they’re family, not like they’re customers. I’ve known a lot of our customers since I went into business, so I’ve known them for over 40 years now. It’s a long time. So, like I said, they’re not customers to me anymore. They’re family. I know their kids and their grandkids. We’ve done a lot of their family events.
Hopefully more happy [events] than sad, but we’re starting to do some of those now too.

Q: What does it mean to you to have Attman’s be such a cornerstone of the Potomac community?

A: To me, it’s very personal because I’m from Baltimore originally, and I used to go into Attman’s when I was a kid, and the corned beef sandwiches were 50 cents back then. And Attman’s was in Baltimore, they had a reputation like God, and that’s one of the things I wanted to bring to Potomac. I wanted Attman’s to be as popular in the Potomac area in Montgomery County as Attman’s in Baltimore because you ask anybody about Attman’s in Baltimore and they know exactly where they are, who they are and everything about them. They love it. That’s what I was trying to accomplish here in Potomac. I want that when people think of a deli, they think of Attman’s.

Q: What do you hope people know, from a reputation standpoint about Attman’s?

A: We’re the oldest delicatessen still owned by the same family in the United States. That’s a pretty big statement to make. Mark and Debbie Attman – third generation grandson of the original founder, Harry Attman –
he wants to keep it in the family, and he wants to keep going. I hope it’s always Attman’s.


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