PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) – In the middle of Philadelphia's bustling Reading Terminal Market stands Herschel's East Side Deli, a kosher eatery serving up softball-sized hot pastrami sandwiches to long lunch lines.
Owner Steve Safern works behind the counter slicing the meat and ringing up his stream of customers. He started Herschel's a year and a half ago, naming it for his uncle Hersh who saved Safern's father when in 1939 the Nazis rounded up and killed most of the residents in their mainly Orthodox Jewish town on the Poland-Russia border, including the brothers' seven siblings and their parents.
Safern has sold electronics to law enforcement agencies for 21 years; Hershel's is a pet project. But it's a pet project that is beginning to feel the effects of the country's faltering economy.
"The cost of milk has gone up, grains, our breads have almost doubled in the last two years," Safern told CNN, adding that his meat costs have increased as well. "When you look at the whole picture for a restaurant, everything that we do as a restaurant is going up."
Despite shrinking profits, Safern has avoided raising prices - but expects he'll have to. Unlike other businesses in the market, he hasn't had to cut back on staff but says he's working with a skeleton crew. Every time he posts a job, he gets ten times the number of applications he used to.
So what does that mean for his vote in November? "Right now the economy is probably the number one problem, I think, on everybody's mind," says Safern. "If it's hurting us in our pocket, we're all going to look for changes."
For Safern, change means voting for a Democrat - and though he hasn't made up his mind, he's leaning towards Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania's April 22 primary.
- CNN Political Producer Alexander Marquardt