Katz's Early History
In 1888 what is now known as Katz’s Delicatessen 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 changed from Iceland Brothers 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. A move to the present side of the street was necessitated during this time by the construction of the subway system, although the entry remained on Ludlow street. The vacant lot on Houston (named after a Dutch emigrant of the same name) Street was home to barrels of meat and pickles until the present storefront facade was added in the period 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 for franks and beans, a long time 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 sealed as 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 Second Avenue as well as the National Theater on Houston Street. Although the Yiddish theater has passed, Katz's is still witness to newer generations of successes and scoundrels as the pictures of current and past celebrities line the walls.
The next change in ownership took place with the death of Willy Katz as his son Lenny took over. In the late 70’s, both Benny Katz and Harry Tarowsky passed away,
leaving the store to their offspring, son-in-law Artie Maxstein and son Izzy Tarowsky, respectively. However by the mid-1980’s, the new generation of owners realized that they had no immediate offspring of their own to which 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.