Owner: Jake Dell
Based in: East Village, New York City
Link to website: https://katzsdelicatessen.com/
Katz’s Deli has had a home in the East Village for a very long time — 132 years to be exact.
And even a global pandemic won’t stop the iconic Jewish deli from serving its loyal fanbase, according to its 32-year-old owner, Jake Dell.
“When the order [for no dine-in customers] came through, it was just sort of a scramble to get more information and figure out exactly what it meant. It was a learning process, not knowing what was happening,” said Dell.
The first 24 hours, he admits, were a bit chaotic. But, Katz’s crew put up the tables and chairs, limited the number of people coming in at one time to collect their meals, and left the celebrated red and green neon lights of the storefront on.
Today, Jake Dell is the third person in his family to operate the famed delicatessen. And the priority, he says, is keeping his 200-person staff employed during these uncertain times.
Despite temporarily closing A Taste of Katz’s, the carryout storefront at the Dekalb Market, Dell says he hasn’t had to lay anyone off — yet. Instead, he is focusing on reshuffling the team and expanding the workflow of his staff to help everyone stay productive, even if shifts or hours may change.
“Anyone who would like to work is here and getting a paycheck,” he said. In the meantime, Dell’s priority is keeping both his staff and his customers safe.
“Every staff member has a mask, gloves and hats on. The workstations have been moved to make space for workers, at least six-feet apart,” Dell said.
But, he does want New Yorkers to know that the delicatessen is open, serving up sizzling hot pastrami and offering free delivery on orders of $100 or more.
“We’re open because we have to be,” he said. “A lot of people depend on us.”
Though the in-store East Village foot traffic is down nearly 95 percent, shipping and delivery orders are on the rise.
“It’s enough to keep us afloat, and during these times, that’s really all you can ask for,” Dell said.
For those that want to support New York front-line heroes, Katz’ is offering several donate-a-meal options and delivering hundreds of meals to different hospitals across the city, starting with a $5 matzoh ball soup.
“You can feed a hospital worker or a donate a meal to a low-income senior citizen building on the Lower East Side,” Dell said.
In its rich history, Katz' had encouraged New Yorkers during World War II to 'Send A Salami To Your Boy In The Army', and now, Dell says this is a way to help front-line healthcare workers when they need New Yorkers the most.
“There’s a wonderful side of humanity coming out right now that really warms your heart,” Dell said.