In 1952, Eisenhower was president, the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the World Series, I Love Lucy appeared on television, and Tom Weinberger opened the first of five delicatessens in Illinois. He learned the business from one of the oldest deli families in Chicago. Fifty years later the tradition continues in Grapevine, Texas.
I am Dan Weinberger, I too am a 1952 creation. Born into the deli business. I grew up in my father’s stores and eventually managed them. In 1978 we created what we thought would be the next big franchise concept, our deli sandwich shop. A lot of effort was put in to it. We even went as far as registering it with the State of Illinois. But that was as far as it went. We backed off in favor of another business venture. Later my father and I went different directions. For 18 years Weinberger’s Delicatessen sat in a folder in my filing cabinet until last summer when I told my wife I was tired of moving. My wife and I were consultants, and have had to move our family several times over the past ten years.
We blew off the dust and opened the folder and looked at Weinberger’s to see if it would work here in Texas. First, we looked to see what type of delis there were in Texas. To sum it up in a word, few. Then we looked at the product they carried, Bologna, Turkey, Ham, white bread, white bread, and white bread. Then to location, Subway, Subway, Subway, Quiznos, Subway, Quiznos, etc…………… Pickings were slim. If you didn’t belong to a franchise forget it. Realtors wouldn’t give us the time of day. Finally we found a spot that was willing to take a shot with us. Downtown Grapevine right on Main Street. What luck! Yes, Texans do like us! They really, really, really like us, even though the store is covered in Da Bears, Da Sox, Da Cubs, Da Bulls, Da Hawks! We’re just missing a picture of Da Mare! (Yes, we do teach Chicagoease.)
Of course there was the learning curve we all had to go through. Getting product for example. It is easier for me to order Beluga Caviar from Siberia, then to order Sport Peppers for hot dogs. What are sport peppers? The First words out of a vendor’s mouth! Then it gets even tougher, Knish, Kishka, Gyro, (pronounced gee-row, not ji-row. A ji-ro is a toy as in GYROSCOPE!)
OK, we got the food in, now we have to teach non-Chicagoans just what it is they are eating. For example, someone will order a Chicago dog. What does that mean to us? A regular steamed all beef hot dog, served on a steamed poppy seed bun, garnished with, mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, sport peppers, celery salt and topped with a pickle. What do they say? I don’t want all of that! But you ordered a Chicago dog! UGH! We don’t want to be the “Soup Nazi”, but sometimes we seem to be so.
So now we’re up and running. What makes us so special? What separates us from the Jason’s, the Gilbert’s, and the Carshon’s of the metroplex? Well, we’re not from Texas, New York, or New Jersey, we’re from Chicago, where the meat is sliced thin, served hot, and piled high, sloppy, tasty, and with an attitude.
We had a couple from D Magazine advertising department come by and have lunch. They loved it and suggested I contact you and invite you to sample our food. We have been very fortunate that several critics here have enjoyed our sandwiches. I’m sure you are asked to try different eateries all the time. Should you be in the Grapevine area we would love to have the opportunity for you to review our shop.