Katz’s Delicatessen: Where Harry Met Sally And Corn Beef Rules!

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I was touring around NYC with my aunt — I got in a few days early for the conference I’ll be speaking at and we landed at the one, the only Katz’s Delicatessen

  They say it would not have been possible for Katz’s Delicatessen to survive three depressions, numerous recessions and two World Wars if Katz’s wasn’t the best deli in NYC. So we had to check it out.

Actually its not the first time I’ve eaten there — but it had been a good 10 years ago. Here’s the corn beef sandwich… just as I remembered it and the chicken soul was definitely made for the soul!

Opened in 1888, Katz’s Deli has been a beloved deli among the immigrants who crowded into the Lower East Side one hundred years ago. Since then, generations have stood before the carver as they skillfully carve a pile of pastrami, turkey or corned beef.

It’s the exceptional taste that has carried Katz’s name far beyond NYC. Over the last century, a lot has come and gone, but Katz’s Delicatessen is still where it was in 1888.

In 1888 what is now known as Katz’s Delicatessen was established on Ludlow Street in New York’s Lower East Side by the Iceland brothers. Upon the arrival of Willy Katz in 1903, the name of the store was changed from Iceland Brothers to Iceland & Katz.

Willy’s cousin Benny joined him in 1910, buying out the Iceland brothers to officially form Katz’s delicatessen. Their landsman Harry Tarowsky bought into the partnership in April 1917. A move to the present side of the street was necessitated during this time by the construction of the subway system, although the entry remained on Ludlow street. The vacant lot on Houston (named after a Dutch emigrant of the same name) Street was home to barrels of meat and pickles until the present storefront facade was added in 1946-49.

Photo Source: Katz Delicatessen

In the early part of the twentieth century, the Lower East Side was home to millions of newly immigrated families. This, along with the lack of public and private transportation, forged a solid community where Katz’s became a focal point for congregating.  On Fridays the neighborhood turned out for franks and beans, a long time Katz tradition.

During World War II, the three sons of the owners were all serving their country in the armed forces, and the family tradition of sending food to their sons became sealed as the company slogan “Send A Salami To Your Boy In The Army.” Tm

Photo Source: Katz Delicatessen & Natalie Petouhoff

During the peak of the Yiddish theater, the restaurant was forever filled with actors, singers and comedians from the many theaters on Second Avenue as well as the National Theater on Houston Street. Although the Yiddish theater has passed, Katz’s is still witness to newer generations of successes and scoundrels as the pictures of current and past celebrities line the walls.

Katz’s was the site of the famous scene in the movie, When Harry Met Sally…  Here’s to a beer and good cheer to Katz’s – may you continue in your long held tradition of serving New York and the rest of the world…

Natalie Petouhoff
Dr. Nat is a leading expert, often quoted in the press and provides commentary as a guest expert on radio and television on how the top companies provide great experiences and retain loyal customers. She also writes about technology, social media, mobile and products. Her research has been highlighted in cover stories in business publications like Business Week, New York Times and USA Today and she has given talks at leading events such as WOMMA, Forrester Consumer Forum, SOCAP, and more. Dr. Nat is the author of four business books on customer service, CRM and contact centers as well as author of dozens upon dozens of articles, white papers and research.
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