KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Gus’s Good Times Deli is a staple in Knoxville, but like all small businesses, it struggled during the pandemic.

However, support from the community helped the deli celebrate a huge milestone on Saturday.

If you go to University of Tennessee, then you’ve probably been to Gus’s Good Times Deli.

“This is the best place to go as a UT student,” said UT Senior Bain McCullough. “It’s a place you can get a good hot meal and good environment. Lots of history in here.”

Forty years of history to be exact.

“March, Friday the 13th, is my lucky day… 1981,” said Gus Captain, owner of the deli.

That was the day he opened the deli doors.

“It means everything to me,” he explained thinking about his opening day, now forty years later.

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Gus and his partners Aaron Hale and Herald Nelson have been through a lot together.

The deli was rebuilt in the same spot after the original restaurant was destroyed by fire in 1993.

More recently, the owners have had to deal with overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of people helped us,” said Gus. “Peyton Manning helped us financially, different friends…”

Without the community and celebrity support, their doors may have had to close.

“Thank you to everybody,” Gus smiled. “I’m still here.”

Gus is technically retired, but likes to come in and help out on gamedays.

“We always ask where he’s at and they always say he’s retired,” explained UT senior Jack Brockmeyer. “So this was the first time we got to meet him and it was awesome.”

Gus loves all things orange and white,

“I love UT. I love football players.” Guss added, “I like to see people. I love people coming back. So I love this place.”

And the people love Gus.

Brockmeyer brought memorabilia to the deli for Gus to sign.

“It’s an encyclopedia of sandwiches,” he said, showing his interviewed piece. “I thought it was only fit to bring it here and have Gus sign it because it has some of the most famous sandwiches that they cookout here.”

Brockmeyer remembers his very first time coming to the deli,

“I had my first meal in here during the summer of 2017 and it was awesome,” he said. “I’ve been coming here ever since.”

Take it from the owner who can’t stay away, once you go to Gus’s Good Times Deli, you’ll be back… just like Brockmeyer and his friends.

Though Gus likes to pop into the deli some days Aaron Hale and Gerald Nelson took over in 2001.