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The scaffolding's up, but Al's not down.

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Al and customer

His BB's Deli has been a sidewalk hole-in-the wall in the Sandford long-stay hotel building for 16 years, always known for its deals.

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But the hotel's going through a major renovation (understandable: it was built in 1913), and Al Kazzazi's deli is kinda hidden in the scaffolding.

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Somewhere behind this scaffolding is Al's place

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This scaffolding's going to be here months

But he's not letting it interrupt business.

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"Hell no, this could take another year. We're staying open."

There will be a lot of people breathing a sigh of relief. Al's place (at 1321 Fifth Avenue, near Ash, 619-238-4567) is a full-on social center for everyone from the nearby Paul Mitchell hair-salon school to the Sandford seniors to the wannabe hairdressers from the barbers' school next door.

"This is an inconvenience," says Al. "When the recession hit, I lost 60 percent of my business. I'm back to 80 percent of what I was making, but I should raise prices because rent, food...all cost me more. But my customers...I haven't raised prices since 2006."

My favorite is BB's Special, a sandwich named after Al's grandmother. BB was her nickname. It's a turkey, bacon, Swiss, and avocado ($6.50). With chips and a drink, you're out $7.83. And that's with tax.

But if you're light of pocket, you can always get an egg-and-cheese muffin for $1.89 (with tax), or, if you make it before 10 a.m., $1.50 (with tax). How great is that?

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Worth climbing through the scaffolding for.

Pictured: the Sandford, before repairs

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