Sam & Gertie’s, a new all-vegan Jewish deli, opened last Friday in Chicago to a crowd of hungry customers and sold out of food by Saturday. Owner Gina Marino-Kalish and her partner Andy Kalish opened the deli (described as the first vegan Jewish deli in the world) in Chicago’s Sheridan Park neighborhood next door to the couple’s popular vegan diner Kāl’ish in the former space of their now-shuttered non-vegan pizzeria, Longacre. Named after Kalish’s maternal grandparents, the deli serves plant-based versions of traditional Jewish delicatessen items, including smoked salmon, bagels, baked goods, knishes, latkes, egg and tuna salads, as well as hot sandwiches filled with brisket and schmaltz. “So many sweet young people came out yesterday and ate everything we made, for the whole weekend, in one day,” a note posted on Sam & Gertie’s door—with a picture of the real Sam and Gertie—read. “We will be back in the kitchen and bakery tomorrow preparing extra for next weekend. As you can imagine, we don’t like to disappoint. If you are looking for someone to kvetch to, try our grandson Andy. He means well.” Sam & Gertie’s is just the latest in a string of new vegan eateries across the country drawing massive crowds on opening day, which includes Oakland, CA’s soul-food restaurant Vegan Mob which sold out of its offerings—such as plant-based brisket, shrimp po’ boys, and “smackaroni” & cheese—within six hours of opening its doors in October.
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