Prior to Spring 2004 I lived in Columbus, OH, and I enjoyed dining often at Katzinger’s deli. My special sandwich was their “#34″, a hot brisket sandwich on rye with Russian dressing and coleslaw. I omitted the coleslaw. This is a great sandwich, and Katzinger’s is a great deli. I’ve been to most of the highly rated delis in Manhattan–Katz’s, Carnegie, and others — and I haven’t found a sandwich that can match this one. The Katzinger’s people told me that they were a knockoff of the Manhattan delis, but in my opinion they outdo their model.

On Dec. 26 I found myself in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and now I don’t know what to think. Zingerman’s deli is incredibly similar to Katzinger’s. Even the #34 sandwich is basically the same thing–hot brisket on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing. (Katzinger’s actually also has some non-brisket roast beef mixed in.) Furthermore the format of these two delis is exactly the same, as are the signage, fonts, and lettering. Yet apparently there is no business connection between them. Zingerman’s has been around since 1982, and I suspect it’s the original and Katzinger’s the imitator. The imitation though is so profound that I can’t believe there are not lawsuits flying everywhere.

Zingerman’s #34 was outstanding, and I think it had a slight edge over Katzinger’s. Nevertheless they are both fantastic, and it’s one experience that I can’t seem to re-create in Manhattan.


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