If Jake Dell had followed his original career path, Katz’s might not still be here today
The Dells were longtime friends of Katz’s original owners, and took over in 1988, on the store’s 100th anniversary. Jake himself assumed responsibility of operations in 2009, when he was barely out of college. But staying in the family business wasn’t always his plan.
Originally, Dell intended to become a doctor. “I was taking a gap year, and the goal was just to sort of help my father out with the business,” he said. In fact, Dell was so far into the med school process that he’d already taken his MCATS and applied to programs. Then he had an epiphany.
“I said ‘What the fuck am I thinking?’ I can spend the next 10 years of my life doing something I love, or the next 10 years of my life in debt and miserable for an outcome that I’m not even sure I want, and maybe see a business that I love and grew up with disappear.” It was a no-brainer, he said. Dell’s father and uncle still have a hand in the business, but had Dell not taken over as owner, it’s unclear what would have become of Katz’s in the future. Luckily, Dell is certain he’s made the right choice.
“I love what I do. Every day I’m excited to come here, and when I pull 18 hour days sometimes, it doesn’t feel like work. So I think I made the right decision on that.”
And if he’s not eating deli food, Dell is probably eating...
Italian. “I’m a big, big veal Parm fan,” he said. “I love old school red sauce joints, which you don’t see as much in the city. I love a good pasta, of course, but a good Parm dish is just my favorite.”
Would he ever consider opening an Italian restaurant in the city?
“Yeah,” he said, rolling his eyes. "’Cause THAT’S what people want to see from me.”