If we wanted a special place, we'd go to Kedzie and Roosevelt, where there was Carl's, which is like Manny's today.
People would come from all over to eat there.""Or also on Roosevelt, a few blocks farther west, there was Silverstein's, which was big enough to have weddings in the back.
"But as meat prices have gone up, labor costs have gone up, how hard is it to be profitable? Kaplan's closed in 1995, and the deli named after mama Levy closed in 2006."People go crazy for deli food," said Larry Levy via a spokesperson.
(A deli) is somewhat of an inefficient operation, and with all the costs on Oak Street today or Michigan Avenue, how do you make it work? Kaplan's, which opened on the seventh floor of the then-new Water Tower Place in 1976. When the namesake dude left soon after, the Levys brought in their mother Eadie and her family recipes to save the deli. Levy's Deli in what was then called the Sears Tower. "The biggest challenge is, despite people loving it, it has high food costs.""It's a challenge to charge enough for a really great corned beef sandwich to justify the costs, so it's hard to sustain," added Levy.
In 1931, New York City had an estimated 2,000 delis, wrote David Sax in "Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen." Only a couple of dozen remained when his book was published in 2009.
Delis declined because it's hard to make money on traditional Jewish deli sandwiches (more on that in a minute), plus tastes changed, Sax discovered on his own quest, which took him three years and around the world, including to Chicago.
Kaplan opened Hemingway's in the early 1970s, then sold it in late 1976 to focus on his eponymous deli, according to Peter Engler, a Hemingway's diner, member of the Chicago food chat site LTH Forum, and former University of Chicago genetic research scientist. The kiosk offers huge variations on the Reuben, including The High Rise ($15) with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on dark rye.
Ashkenaz Deli Ashkenaz was the last big Jewish deli in the Gold Coast, at 12 E.
(I also ate my way through dozens of corned beef and other sandwiches, plus bowls of chicken soup.
See the photo gallery above.)Related: For more in our What's the Story? It's impossible to say how many Jewish delis were in Chicago at their height, because some small neighborhood family favorites had no name, but the disappearing deli is a wider phenomenon.
Max Stern, The Bagel Chef, can be seen as a new guard of makers of Jewish food.
Here he demonstrates how he makes his plain and everything artisan bagels at Kitchen Chicago (Louisa Chu / Chicago Tribune) Max Stern, The Bagel Chef, can be seen as a new guard of makers of Jewish food.
There were indeed great and big delis in the Gold Coast area.