Josh Garcia showcases cheesecake, flown in from New York, and Miracle Mile’s best-seller Straw sandwich (photo by Darryl Webb for North Central News).

Josh Garcia remembers doing his elementary school homework on a pickle barrel “desk,” surrounded by servers slicing mounds of pastrami and corned beef, piling it into onion and kaiser rolls, or serving up liver and onions, savory stuffed bell peppers, coleslaw and potato salads followed by thick wedges of cheesecake.

“I started serving coffee on Saturday mornings when I was 11,” he said. “I wasn’t tall enough to see over the counter, so I had to stand on a milk crate.”

Apt memories for the scion of the family that for three generations has owned Miracle Mile Deli, the venerable Phoenix eatery that is marking its 75th anniversary May 10 — declared “Miracle Mile Deli Day” by the city of Phoenix.

Garcia, 42, has been involved full-time at the deli for 20 years and today manages the family business.

This all began when Josh’s grandparents, Jack and Eleanor Grodzinsky, moved to Tucson from Brooklyn, N.Y, in 1949, seeking a dry climate for their daughter, who suffered from asthma.

“He couldn’t find work, so he took the bus up to Phoenix,” Garcia said. “The bus stop was at 16th Street and McDowell, and he found a little restaurant around the corner called Pat’s Café. The owner wanted out of the business, and by the end of the day, my grandfather had purchased it on a handshake.” He renamed it Herman’s Corned Beef Junction.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the commercial strand of McDowell from 16th to 24th Street grew, becoming known as the Miracle Mile. “My grandfather changed the name again, to Miracle Mile Deli.”

More changes were to come as the deli grew along with the city, following commercial development in the metro area.

Park Central mall opened in 1957, the first major shopping center in Phoenix. “My grandfather was smart enough to know that he wanted to be a part of that,” Garcia said. “Customers tell us they have memories from the location we had there, with the koi pond and the large patio. It was a big restaurant for its time.”

Grodzinsky later opened a Miracle Mile Deli at Christown Mall, followed over the years by locations in Arrowhead Towne Center, Camelback Colonnade, Scottsdale Promenade.

“A lot of people associate pieces of their childhood with our Park Central and Christown locations,” Garcia said. “They were a huge part of Phoenix history.”

The Christown location played a big part in the Miracle Mile family’s personal history as well. Jack and Eleanor’s daughter Jill worked there, along with a boy named George Garcia.

“My mom and my dad met when she was 12 and he was 15,” Garcia said. “My dad was a busboy, and my mom was a cashier, so my dad married the boss’s daughter — much later in life.”

Grodzinsky eventually handed over management to the Garcias, and over the last five years they in turn have taken a step back, handing management over to Josh.

Meanwhile, the Park Central and Christown locations closed, and Josh was managing the Colonnade, Arrowhead and Scottsdale delis. “I was driving 90 miles a day,” he said.

Then came a major change in 2015. “My dad’s dream had been to own his own building on his own piece of property,” Garcia said. The family decided to have just one restaurant and built the sleek Miracle Mile Deli in North Central Phoenix, at 16th Street and Campbell.

Business is brisk, with a staggering amount of meats, cheeses, salads and desserts passing over the counter. That includes over 3,000 pounds of pastrami and 2,000 pounds of corned beef every month, 40 five-gallon buckets of sauerkraut and pickles each week, and more than 3,000 pounds of kosher all-beef frankfurters every year.

At Miracle Mile Deli, the cheesecake is flown in from New York, and their best seller is the Straw sandwich, comprised of hot pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, and steam sauerkraut piled high (photo by Darryl Webb for North Central News).

Garcia takes particular pride in his pastrami. “We’ve been known for it since day one,” he said. “Our navel pastrami is the cut from the belly of the cow. We put it in the steamer for four hours before we even open our doors, and then we trim it right when it’s being served.”

That pastrami is a best-seller, in the Straw Sandwich — pastrami, sauerkraut and melted Swiss; and the New Yorker — hot pastrami, coleslaw and Russian dressing. Breads — onion and kaiser rolls, rye and marble rye — are favorites and come from local bakeries, Strictly from Scratch and Noble Bread. Cheesecake, chocolate fudge cake and carrot cake are flown in from New York.

Over the years, tastes have changed and some deli standards — liver and onions, Salisbury steak, stuffed bell peppers, chopped liver, tongue — have been dropped. “We were making it fresh every day to throw it away,” Garcia said. “Whatever we make for the day, if it’s not sold, it’s thrown out.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is a loyal staff. “Two of our head chefs have been with us for 40 years,” Garcia said. “Some of these guys have known me since I was 4 or 5 years old. They are a part of our family.”

“We’re all very excited to celebrate our 75th year in the Valley. We’re celebrating every month, with specials affiliated with 75 or 1949.”

In May, Miracle Mile is offering a “Super Reader Salad” — chopped romaine, turkey, avocado, feta, grape tomatoes, walnuts, red cabbage, shredded cucumbers and broccoli in a balsamic vinaigrette — for $16. A portion of the proceeds will go to Southwest Human Development’s annual book drive, part of its Grow a Reader program.

“We’re extremely grateful to the local community for supporting us for seven decades,” Garcia said. “We still have people who come in and say ‘Hey, I remember talking with your grandfather at 16th Street and McDowell.’ That’s a pretty special thing, being here and sharing those experiences and those meals together.”

Miracle Mile Deli, 4433 N. 16th St., is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 602-776-0992, or visit

Editor’s note: The price of the “Super Reader Salad” was updated from the print version of this story to reflect the correct amount of $16. We regret the error. In addition, during Miracle Mile Deli Week, May 6-11,  guests can enjoy a pastrami, straw, New Yorker or combo sandwich with a fresh slice of pie for $19.49.


  • Marjorie Rice

    Marjorie Rice is an award-winning journalist, newspaper food editor, travel editor and cookbook editor with more than three decades' experience writing about the culinary industry.

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