​Katz Deli 125 Years On Same New York Corner​​

June 2, 2021

Katz Deli opened 125 years ago and has continued to draw solid business, ever since Grover Cleveland was President and the New York Giants baseball team was playing at the Polo Grounds.

The character and nostalgia complement the meaty sandwiches at Ludlow and Houston Sts., which has continued to draw solid business since 1888.

More than a century later, Katz’s is still sitting on the same lower East Side corner — serving up heaping piles of pastrami to hungry throngs of New Yorkers, tourists and celebrities.

The famous delicatessen is celebrating 125 years in business this weekend.

“People come here for the food, that’s for sure, but there’s also the nostalgia.” said Katz’s third-generation owner Jake Dell.

“They want to be transported back to the first time they came into the restaurant … Everything’s exactly the same way as it was when we first started.”

Katz’s opened its doors on the corner of Ludlow and Houston Sts. in 1888 under a different name: Iceland Brothers.

The castle of kosher food quickly turned into a neighborhood institution in what was then a community brimming with Jewish immigrants.

The eatery’s name was changed to Katz’s in 1910 after a man named Benny Katz bought out the Iceland brothers.

Katz’s franks and beans became the stuff of lore — but it wasn’t until the infamous Meg Ryan fake orgasm scene in the 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally” that Katz’s became a pop culture phenomenon.

A neon sign that reads “Where Harry met Sally … hope you have what she had!” hangs above the table where the scene was filmed.

Almost once a week, customers will try to imitate Ryan, drawing cheers or boos depending on the quality of the performance, Dell said.

Katz’s serves up a mouth-watering mountain of meat every week: 15,000 pounds of pastrami; 8,000 pounds of corned beef and 4,000 hot dogs.

And a steady stream of bold-faced names has filled the 355-seat deli over the years — four U.S. Presidents among them.

Bill Clinton put on a shocking display of calorie consumption during one visit, when he scarfed down a pastrami sandwich, two knishes, two hot dogs, a side of French fries and two Dr. Brown sodas, Dell said.

“And then, when he was done, he was still picking off the plates of the Secret Service agents,” Dell recalled.

Tourist Carol Rodvell followed Clinton’s lead on Friday, scooping every last piece of pastrami off of her plate and easing it into her mouth.
“It’s so tender it’s like butter,” gushed Rodvell, 57, of Charlotte, N.C.

Katz’s anniversary celebration kicked off nicely with three top chefs who hosted a charity dinner.