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"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.
It closed in 1968."My dad's dream was coffee shop, deli, steakhouse, then cheesecake came along in 1980," said Eli's Cheesecake President Marc Schulman, son of late founder Eli Schulman, recently at the company's headquarters in Dunning.It has simply a few slices of shaved corned beef or turkey pastrami, plus Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing, all on marble rye.A monthly calendar lists soups of the day, but one notable chicken soup is available every day: matzo ball ($6.50)."We definitely have the chicken matzo ball soup, and you can take a quart away," said The Goddess and Grocer chef and owner Debbie Sharpe. "As for the big deli corned beef, it's just not our demographic.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."You might wonder why higher costs hit delis so hard and differently than other restaurants. Kaplan's Delis in the Gold Coast were numerous at one point. Don Burton Kaplan was already known for his Hemingway's Movable Feast deli in Lincoln Park at 1825 N. was ham salad on a BLT with mayo on whole wheat toast. Levy's Deli In 1978 brothers Mark and Larry Levy invested in D. "Delis are either so good they can charge, or they have created other low-cost crave items like special French toasts, where costs are low, as opposed to surviving on $16 to $18 authentic deli sandwiches."Last year Levy Restaurants launched a Mrs.
In "Save the Deli," Sax said, as did many other sources I spoke to for this story, the public expected high-quality smoked meat, piled mile-high but still low-priced. Lincoln Ave., with sky-scraping sandwiches plus super-thick and rich chocolate malts. Kaplan's the names got punnier, like the Lake Shore Chive, with roast beef and cream cheese with chives on black bread, and the Studs Turkey for radio journalist Studs Terkel, with beef tongue, hot turkey breast, Canadian bacon, cranberry sauce and shredded lettuce on French bread. Levy's Deli at the United Center as part of the culinary upgrade of the stadium in the Near West Side.
They will make a corned beef sandwich to order, but there's a so-called Mile High Reuben ($12) on the menu.
The sandwich is lovely but relatively petite, compared with the giant deli sandwiches we've come to expect.
(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.
It was a popular place, and in front you often had outdoor political orators: socialists, Zionists, communists and atheists.