A Brief History of Katzinger's Delicatessen

By Diane Warren, co-founder

Nothing pleases me more than seeing a family of eight, 10, 12 or so rearranging tables so they can all sit together. I’ve known these folks for decades. They are three generations of Katzinger’s fans with a loyalty that surpasses their love of corned beef. Somehow we have become part of their family’s traditions. When the kids come back from college, they come to Katzinger’s. When there’s a wedding, a trip to Katzinger’s becomes part of the celebration. A new born – oh my yes – let’s wean that kid on pickle juice! A death in the family and Katzinger’s deli platters will comfort the family as they grieve.

Our entire staff is infinitely grateful for the opportunity to become part of these lives, and we are honored and humbled they have chosen us. This is what I love the most about Katzinger’s.

pickle illustration

Who We Are

Katzinger’s Delicatessen is more than an award-winning traditional New York-style delicatessen. with both dine-in and carry-out service. We are also a specialty foods store featuring artisan cheeses, meats, dry goods and breads and we don’t stop there. Our catering department services the entire city of Columbus with deli platters, appetizers, entrée salads and homemade desserts.

How We Do It

Our kitchen prepares almost everything on our menu from scratch (though not our fresh, crusty European style breads which are delivered daily from Mediterra Bakehouse in Pittsburgh). Our sandwich line makes and serves every sandwich to order – and more than one in four of them have our home cooked and sliced to order corned beef! Our salads, side dishes, soup and desserts (and even our hot dog buns!) are scratch-made from original recipes created by our food loving staff – and the food is beyond delicious!

Where We Came From

It was 1984 when Steve Warren and I returned to Columbus after five years in Ann Arbor and Chicago. The influx of Nationwide Insurance and the thousands of east-coasters they brought with them had changed the city. At last Columbus was ready for an authentic New York style deli and we were the people to bring it to my hometown! We opened Katzinger’s Delicatessen in a small storefront in an old (built 1827) brick building in German Village. The deli was teensy with only 32 seats, and room for an office so we hid our safe buried in the floor. We stored our hundreds of loaves of bread off site. There was no back entrance to the trash dumpster so we climbed a ladder and carefully tossed bags of trash over a seven-foot cement wall to the person on the other side waiting to catch it. It was challenging but was it ever fun!

Steve made sure every item from our kitchen exceeded expectations. The corned beef was tender and tasty beyond imagination, the matzo balls and chicken broth were as good as grandma’s. The roast beef, laden with garlic and rosemary, was a perfect medium rare. The chopped liver was smooth, creamy, and made extra flavorful by the sheer amount of caramelized onions. I could go on and on…

Every day I stood on a milk crate behind the salad case to greet our guests. The case was loaded with freshly made potato salad, cole slaw, fruit salad, macaroni salad and more. It showcased our Jewish offerings of latkes, blintzes, kugel and knishes. Our brownies, cheesecakes, strudels and pies were loaded with butter, cream, imported chocolate and fruit. The presentation was a feast for the eyes and for the stomach and it was a heart breaker – how could you not want one of each?!

That crate allowed me to see the customers as they walked up to place their order. They would stare up at the hand written menu board oozing with offers then give me that confused look. I would smile knowingly and say “tell me what you like and I’ll find you something truly great to order. Then you can grab yourself a pickle from the pickle barrel and find a seat!” They did and they were so happy with this deli experience they returned to Katzinger’s again and again. As time went on they brought their children and their children brought their children and now we have three generations. “Sunrise Sunset”. But I digress.

In 1987 we received the “Columbus Institution” tag from Columbus Monthly (That’s the thing about a real deli-it feels like it’s always been here). By 1988 we were running out of room. We needed a bigger kitchen with more counter space, more refrigeration, and a freezer. And, we needed more seating. In 1989 we purchased the building and expanded into the entire 5000 square foot structure (plus cellar and attic) that Katzinger’s currently occupies. In 1993, we purchased the cottage next door and attached a small part of that building allowing us another 400 square foot of kitchen space. Every inch of extra space helps and no inch goes unused.

Briefly, where we are today

Katzinger’s day-to-day operations are facilitated by a management team that has worked with us between three and 18 years. Barring a few updates, we are essentially the same place we’ve been since 1984 with the same respect for the quality of our food and service and the sanctity of our traditions.

In 2016 Katzinger’s and Katzinger’s Little Deli were sold to CityBrands, LLC., a small local restaurant group that owns the Wine Bistros and Napa Kitchen among others. The folks from City Brands LLC understand and respect the position Katzinger’s has in the Columbus culinary scene and promise to be stewards of this Columbus institution. Though Steve has gone on to other culinary challenges, I am still working at Katzinger’s. I promise to do my best to ensure the City Brands folks take good care of Katzinger’s!

If you’ve not been to Katzinger’s, we hope you’ll give us a try. If you have, we hope to see you again soon!

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