Miller’s original notion was to lease a Bentley (which he couldn’t afford) and use it for Uber driving. But an employee nixed his retirement plan, crunching the numbers and noting Uber driving wouldn’t pay for the lease. “So I guess it’s a deli,” decided Miller by default.
Retirement was never an option for the 74-year-old Miller, who recently opened Paragon Deli Cafe at 2724 Shelter Island Drive.
“This is my retirement,” he quipped. “I never want to quit.”
A CFO for numerous high-profile companies like Bumble Bee Tuna over the years, Miller felt the call to return to the restaurant business. It was something he did previously for six years back in the ’60s working his way through SDSU.
“I worked full-time as a dishwasher/busboy, helped wait tables, then worked up to the cooking side preparing food,” he said. “I just enjoy serving people. I’ve had big parties at my house, like my Labor Day party with 110 people – and I cooked all that food myself.”
Why a deli then? “Just because I had an interest in food and serving people,” answered Miller, adding, “I didn’t want the full restaurant gig working evenings and Sundays.”
Miller chose Paragon for his business name noting it was a previous menu choice, Pacific Paragon, at a restaurant he worked at. “That’s (also) our signature sandwich here,” he said. “I just duplicated the recipe.”
Of his menu, Miller noted it consists of soups, salads and sandwiches.
“Our menu has a little bit of a European flair,” he said. “We have French sandwiches, and a big, killer Portuguese sandwich.”
He described building his blockbuster Portuguese special. It starts with bread grilled on both sides, with cheese on each piece, then a stack of beef, ham and sausage with more cheese over the top cooked in the oven. Then you pour sauce over that.
“It’s really a rich sandwich and filling,” Miller said. “The guys from the boatyards here come in and order it.”
Paragon is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily except Sundays, serving breakfast and lunch. For breakfast you can get eggs any style, plates and sandwiches, oatmeal and trendy avocado toast or French toast. There are a number of coffees available. “We buy our coffee from an Italian, a seven-bean blend, and I happen to think it’s the best coffee here on The Point,” said Miller.
There’s also an extensive list of salads for lunch. Sandwiches include Reubens, which are drier than most you’ll find elsewhere. “We make all the soups, tuna and chicken salads here,” said Miller. “The carrot cake is made here. It’s all homemade stuff.”
Beer and wine is served at Paragon, which is a family operation with Miller’s children and in-laws participating.
The decor inside Paragon is as artistic as it is eclectic, with items from all over the world collected by Miller.
Miller added he put cafe in his business name because he wanted to let people know that Paragon “is more than just a sandwich shop.”
Why come to Paragon?
“The quality of the food, the cleanliness and the friendliness,” replied Miller.
Paragon Deli Cafe
2724 Shelter Island Drive
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.