Katz's Early History
In 1888, a small deli by the name of Iceland Brothers was established on Ludlow Street in New York’s Lower East Side by the Iceland brothers. Upon the arrival of Willy Katz in 1903, the name of the store was officially changed to "Iceland & Katz". Willy’s cousin Benny joined him in 1910, buying out the Iceland brothers to officially form Katz’s Delicatessen. Their landsman Harry Tarowsky bought into the partnership in April 1917. Katz’s Deli was moved across the street, to its present location, during the construction of the subway system. The vacant lot on Houston Street (pronounced "House-ton" after a Dutch emigrant of the same name) was home to barrels of meat and pickles until the present storefront facade was added between 1946-49.
In the early part of the twentieth century, the Lower East Side was home to millions of newly immigrated families. This, along with the lack of public and private transportation, forged a solid community such that Katz’s became a focal point for congregating. On Fridays the neighborhood turned out to enjoy franks and beans, a Katz tradition.
During World War II, the three sons of the owners were all serving their country in the armed forces, and the family tradition of sending food to their sons became the company slogan “Send A Salami To Your Boy In The Army” Tm.
During the peak of the Yiddish theater, the restaurant was forever filled with actors, singers and comedians from the many theaters on 2nd Avenue, as well as the National Theater on Houston Street. Although the age of the Yiddish theater has passed, Katz's is still has its fair share of famous customers, whose photos now line our walls.
The next change in ownership took place when Willy Katz passed away, and his son Lenny took over for him. In the late 70’s, both Benny Katz and Harry Tarowsky passed away, leaving the store to Benny's son-in-law Artie Maxstein and Harry's son Izzy Tarowsky. However by the mid-1980’s, the new generation of owners realized that they had no immediate family of their own to whom they could leave the store. Long-time friend and restaurateur Martin Dell, along with son Alan (who was a chef and a manager at a neighboring deli) and son-in-law Fred Austin, officially bought into the partnership in 1988 on the 100th anniversary of the store.
Alan’s son Jake officially joined the store in late 2009 and is currently in charge of all major operations.