Looking southwest toward Katz's
from the north side of Houston Street
|Food type||Jewish kosher style delicatessen|
|Street address||205 East Houston Street|
Katz's Delicatessen, also known as Katz's of New York City, is a kosher style (not kosher) delicatessen restaurant at 205 East Houston Street, on the southwest corner of Houston and Ludlow Streets on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, New York City.
Since its founding in 1888, it has been popular among locals and tourists alike for its pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs, both of which are widely considered among New York's best. Each week, Katz's serves 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg) of pastrami, 8,000 pounds (3,600 kg) of corned beef, 2,000 pounds (910 kg) of salami and 4,000 hot dogs.
In 1888, the Iceland brothers established what is now known as Katz’s Delicatessen on Ludlow Street in New York’s Lower East Side. Upon the arrival of Willy Katz in 1903, the establishment's name was changed from Iceland Brothers to Iceland & Katz. Willy’s cousin Benny joined him in 1910, buying out the Iceland brothers to form Katz’s delicatessen. Their landsman Harry Tarowsky bought into the partnership in April 1917.
The construction of the subway system required the deli to move to the present side of the street, although the entrance remained on Ludlow Street. The vacant lot on Houston Street was home to barrels of meat and pickles until the storefront facade was added in the period 1946-49.
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 such that Katz’s became a focal point for congregating. On Fridays, the neighborhood turned out for franks and beans, a long time Katz tradition.
During the peak of the Yiddish theater, the restaurant was frequently full of actors, singers and comedians from the many theaters on Second Avenue as well as the National Theater on Houston Street. During World War II, the two sons of the owners – Lenny Katz and Izzy Tarowsky – were both 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". The slogan was coined by Izzy's mother Rose Tarowsky, whose son served in the South Pacific as a bomber pilot.
The next change in ownership took place with the death of Willy Katz, as his son Lenny took over. In 1980, both Lenny Katz and Harry Tarowsky died, leaving the store to Lenny's son-in-law Artie Maxstein and Harry's son Izzy. In 1988, on the 100th anniversary of its establishment, with no offspring of their own to leave the business to, Lenny, Izzy and Arthur sold it to long-time restaurateur Martin Dell, his son Alan – who was a chef and a manager at a neighboring deli – and Martin's son-in-law Fred Austin. Alan’s son Jake joined the business in late 2009 and is in charge of major operations.
The restaurant celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2013. In connection with that celebration, the restaurant opened a pop-up art gallery next door. The gallery featured original art by New York City artists such as Baron Von Fancy and others.
During World War II, Katz's encouraged parents to "Send a salami to your boy in the army" which became one of the deli's noted catch phrases. It is referenced in the Tom Lehrer song "So Long Mom (A Song for World War III)", in the lyric: "Remember Mommy, I'm off to get a Commie, so send me a salami, and try to smile somehow". Katz's continues to support American troops today: the deli has arranged special international shipping for U.N. military addresses only and has been a source of gift packages to the troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Another of the deli's catch phrases is "Katz's, that's all!", which came about when a sign maker asked Harry Tarowsky what to say on the deli's sign, and Harry replied "Katz's, that's all". This was misinterpreted by the sign maker who painted the sign as it stands today on the side of the building.
As each customer enters Katz's, a door attendant hands them a printed, numbered ticket. As they receive their food from various stations/areas throughout the deli (separate for sandwiches, hot dogs, bottled drinks, fountain drinks, etc.), employees compute a running total of the pre-tax bill. If several people's orders are combined on a single ticket, a cashier collects the blank tickets.
Katz's has instituted a "lost ticket fee". If a customer loses a ticket, an additional $50 surcharge is added to the bill. The fee's purpose, as stated by the management, is to encourage patrons to go back and find the lost ticket in the hopes of preventing theft (substituting a smaller ticket for a larger one).
In popular culture
- Katz's was the site of Meg Ryan's famous fake orgasm scene in the 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally..., followed by Estelle Reiner's iconic line "I'll have what she's having"; the table at which Ryan and Billy Crystal sat is marked with a sign that says, "Where Harry met Sally...hope you have what she had! Enjoy!".
- It was the site of Johnny Depp's character meeting with an FBI contact in Donnie Brasco (1997).
- Katz's Deli is the site for a scene in Across the Universe (2007), in which one of the main characters reveals he has been drafted into the Vietnam War.
- Katz's appears in the movie Enchanted (2007) with Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey.
- The deli appears in the 2007 film We Own the Night, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Eva Mendes.
- Katz's appeared in the background of the claymation movie Mary and Max (2009), in most of Max's bus stop scenes.
- In the French film Nous York (2012), Manu Payet and Dree Hemingway visit Katz's, where Fred Austin greets them at their table.
- In the 2001 comedy-drama indie film Sidewalks of New York, David Krumholtz's character Benjamin and a friend wolf down a pastrami sandwich and hot dog at Katz's.
- Katz's is featured in the 2014 documentary Deli Man.
- Katz's appears in the 2004 film Looking for Kitty.
- In the film Off Beat (1986), a group of police officers enjoy a hot meal at the deli.
- The contract to kill Frank Sinatra's character in Contract on Cherry Street (1977) was drafted in a Katz's meat locker.
- Katz's serves as a local hangout for Jim Gaffigan in several episodes of TV Land's The Jim Gaffigan Show (2015).
- Katz's Delicatessen is featured in the Hardy Boys Casefiles series in the episode titled "Evil, Inc." The place was originally introduced to the Hardys after the "Dead on Target" case as the Gray Man's "...less-than-overwhelming gratitiude for the Hardys' help in foiling the terrorist plot". The place is supposed to be a secret meeting place for the Gray Man and his agents, although the Hardys suspect that "Katz's great corned beef sandwiches had something to do with the Gray Man's fondness for the place".
- Law & Order has filmed outside the restaurant.
- Impractical Jokers filmed for a season 4 episode inside the restaurant, as did Man v. Food.
- According to Jewish dietary law, or kashrut, milk products and meat may not be eaten together (see Kashrut: Jewish Dietary Laws on the Judaism 101 website). Katz's menu includes a Reuben sandwich (which includes corned beef and Swiss cheese) and a cheesesteak, both of which violate this proscription (see Katz's menu).
- "Katz's Delicatessen" on the Zagat website
- New York City Travel Guide: Katz's Deli, accessed September 24, 2006
- Katz's official website – Our Story
- 'Profiles: The Bard in the Delicatessen',The New Yorker, March 18, 1944; see also New York Historical Society
- Leveritt, Tom (25 November 2013). "Classic New York: Katz's Delicatessen". GrandLife Hotels. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
- "Salamis to Fend Off Military Blandness", The New York Times, May 22, 1991. p. C8
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