Jennie Holloway, Cheli Vasquez, Luiz Bucci, Cesar Pereda, Hugo Melenez and Lilianna Pereda pose for a photograph in City Deli II Pizza Shop. (Staff photo by Myles Ma.)
Sandra Garoesco, a worker at Lil’ Sweet Home, the new ice cream shop at 15 North Willow St., stands behind the counter, April 16, 2010. (Staff photo by Myles Ma.)

By Myles Ma

Trenton residents and state workers have a new way to cool off this summer. Lilianna Pereda, co-owner of City Deli II Pizza Shop, has opened Lil’ Sweet Home, an ice cream and candy shop right next door, where the original City Deli was located.

The property at 9 North Willow St. had been empty since Pereda bought the City Deli II location at 15 North Willow St. Pereda and her adopted daughter, Jennie Holloway, had worked at the 9 North Willow location since 1990, when it was a deli called Athenian’s.

Pereda had saved up enough to buy the business in 1995, and rechristened it City Deli. The business flourished, attracting crowds of state workers and in 2006 Pereda’s son, Cesar Jr., bought the 15 North Willow property, taking the Peredas, and City Deli with them, and expanding to serve pizza.

It had long been a dream of Pereda’s husband Cesar to run his own pizza shop. He had worked in a number of pizzerias since he and she immigrated from Peru in 1982.

While the new property fulfilled one of Cesar’s dreams and allowed the Peredas to accommodate more customers, the original City Deli shop remained vacant — until April 14.

“I paid taxes and taxes, and I had to do something,” Lilianna Pereda said.

Holloway said they decided to open up the ice cream shop after seeing that there were none in the area. It won’t just be a seasonal store, however.

Lil’ Sweet Home will be open year-round. In the winter, Pereda said, they will serve crêpes. Pereda got the idea after traveling to Europe with her husband.

The ice cream and candy shop carries 20 flavors of Richman’s Ice Cream, Italian water ice, smoothies, gelati, soft serve ice cream and sundaes.

“Whatever the people are looking for we’ll have over there,” Pereda said.

The new ice cream shop will no doubt get a boost from its location, just a door down the street from City Deli II, which is usually packed with state workers for lunch. Holloway said she is constantly fielding calls about whether the focaccia is available.

The fact that City Deli II is a family business is reflected in the names of the menu items. The Lili Panini Wrap, named for Lilianna Pereda, has smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, bacon and honey mustard. The Jennie Salad includes romaine lettuce, feta cheese, cucumber, mushrooms, roasted peppers, walnuts, olives, carrots and croutons. The Papo’s Panini, named for Cesar Pereda, has chicken, roasted peppers, pesto sauce and mozzarella on torpedo bread.

The food attracts state workers, state troopers, Trenton Downtown Association workers, students from Thomas Edison State College, lawyers and tourists. Holloway said a lot of networking takes place within the deli, and they are always open to suggestions from their customers.

For Pereda, the people she meets are the best part of the job.

“I wake up, thank God I have a job and I’m happy,” she said.

City Deli II also delivers, and has catered for many nearby offices, including Thomas Edison State College, Children’s Futures and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3525. Hours are 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call (609) 695-1119.