The Jewish High holidays are no longer just around the corner but will have arrived by sundown on Wednesday, September 8th and last through Yom Kippur, September 18th, 2010.
Will I be favored with another year? Will I be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life?
These are two of many agonizing questions which, when coupled with good, old-fashioned holiday favorites, seem to be at the top of everyone’s list off concerns around this time of the year, a busy season for many but none more, it seems, than Mr. Seth Herkowitz, owner and proprietor of Steve’s Deli at 354 W. Hubbard in Chicago across from the East Bank Club.
This young, energetic businessman and 2003 graduate of the Kent College of Law (with both a law degree and an MBA) was exceedingly busy with a flood of calls but was kind enough to squeeze me into his packed schedule.
“Excuse me for a moment. I’m so sorry,” Seth pled at least three times when he had to put me on hold to assist in taking customer calls, a sure sign that the holiday rush had indeed begun. For Seth and company business is booming.
“From the time when I was a kid, I’ve been interested in the hospitality industry,” Seth began. Listening carefully, I immediately sensed I was speaking to a man- not only interested in making a good, honest living but in serving people by offering efficient and meticulous service with an outstanding product.
“After passing the Illinois bar exam, I began looking for locations,” Seth continued, concerned, I sensed, that he might have to excuse himself again to answer customers calls. The phones, I could hear in the background, were ringing off the hook.
It was not too long ago when Seth opened Steve’s Deli In the fall of 2008. Aware that he was about to enter into a sharply competitive business, Seth Herkowitz’s winning combination of business acumen, competitive spirit, good old-fashioned elbow grease and an excellent product has certainly paid off. Steve’s Deli, though still very young, promises to become a landmark Chicago deli/eatery in the years to come.
What impressed this writer especially was his ability to weave discretion, respect and modesty together that not only characterized the tone of Seth’s words but their content as well.
“Oh, they’re out there but I won’t mention any of my competitors’ names,” he replied apologetically. His reasoning, so far as I could determine, was not so much to avoid giving a free plug to his competitors as it was to steer clear from even the remote possibility that someone might misconstrue his remarks.
That really stood out for me as a sign that the integrity of this man was intact, a gentleman with whom I’d eagerly conduct business.
Offering his customers what he termed a “unique format”-the combination of catering services, carry-out and private party accomodations, Seth underscored the importance of varying his menus to include breakfast and brunch as well as dinner hours, seven days a week. It became very clear to this writer that Seth Herkowitz does not merely understand the meaning of “service” but lives it daily.
In addition, given the imminence of the Jewish holidays, Seth’s mention of his brisket and chicken soup sounded very inviting. I’m entirely certain they are best sellers.
Founded in 1994 by Seth’s godparents, Steve and Joanee Hurwitz, of whom Seth speaks admiringly, Steve’s Deli started out on the right foot in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Almost seventeen years later, Steve’s first location is still going strong, having earned the well-deserved reputation as one of Michigan’s most successful deli/eateries.
Seth placed a strong emphasis on providing an excellent product to a variety of clientele. “My Jewish customers are part of an expanding client base,” he explained when I asked him about the demographics of his Jewish clientele.
Jokingly remarking that he prepares a variety of foods, most healthy but some not, Seth emphasized the importance of his multi-cultural approach to business.
“We cook for all of the holiday traditions,” and when asked about Passover, he paused momentarily. “My Passover menu is entirely “Passover friendly”.
From there we returned to the Jewish High Holidays. “We also offer a lighter meal option with which to break the fast after Yom Kippur,” Seth noted, consisting of a fancy fish platter with lox, smoked white fish and sable. The mere mention of the fish platter brought back cherished personal nemories from years ago when my Aunt Hynda used to invite everyone over for Sunday morning brunch and serve fish platters exactly as Seth described them.
Many Thanks Seth for evoking one of my favorite childhood memories.
Looking to be pampered this holiday season? Call Steve’s Deli at (312) 467-6868 or go online to www.stevesdeli.com. Ask for information about their Rosh Ha Shanah and Yom Kippur specials. Now sit back and enjoy. L’Chaim!
Wishing Seth Herkowitz and his bride a happy and healthy New Year with many blessings and continuing success and for his generosity of time which made this article possible. A special thanks to Robin Clement for her scheduling assistance and photos.