With the growing momentum of big-name chefs opening stalls and stands rather than stand-alone restaurants, a market outpost seemed like a natural move for the deli. “We've always looked for ways to provide the authentic taste of Katz's to more people,” says Jake Dell, the deli’s 29-year-old, third-generation owner. A stand is a great way to reach the masses for sure, but it also comes with the added benefit of a relatively low overhead in an increasingly expensive city. (Dell owns the building that houses the original Katz’s, so he doesn’t have to worry about landlords and rent hikes.) Dell says he was “approached by other markets before” but the 60,000 square foot, 40-vendor DeKalb Market Hall in Downtown Brooklyn was the one that made the most sense. “Many of our long-time customers come to Manhattan from Brooklyn, so opening an outpost in their neighborhood felt right.”
For the new spot, Dell didn’t set out to duplicate the original Katz’s. “As our sign reads, this is only ‘A Taste of Katz's,’” he explains. “There is no way to fully recreate the experience and nostalgia -- the look, the sounds, the smells -- of our Lower East Side location as a long-standing NYC institution.”
There’s certainly a lot of the deli’s defining characteristics missing at the new stand. Part of the excitement of the original Katz’s is the ordering system -- taking your ticket, getting in line at the counter, chatting with the carver about the particulars of your order (and maybe even getting a sample in the process), and absolutely, under no conditions, losing your ticket.
At the new Katz’s, things are far simpler (and less personal): sans tickets, customers peruse the menu board, place an order, and wait to pick it up from a nearby window, like at most fast-casual restaurants. You can still watch the pros whittle slabs of pastrami and corned beef into slices, but there’s far less opportunity for banter (and samples).
There are no photos and testimonials of Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, and Bill Clinton hanging on the walls (there are no walls!). There’s no nostalgia from countless film scenes filmed at the tables and late-nights hunched over Reubens and Cel-Ray sodas and beers. The place isn’t 24 hours, either -- DeKalb Market closes at 9pm on weeknights and 10pm on weekends. Seating is extremely limited, so chances are you’ll have to take your meal home, or eat awkwardly in a crowded mall.