Rose Kravitz, along with her husband, Herbert, founded Kravitz Delicatessen in 1939, but their son, Jack, made the restaurant and catering business what it is today.
It is Jack's ability to keep the business in tune with the changing times, Rose said. This foresight is what has made it possible for the delicatessen to be celebrating its 70th year.
''The business has changed a lot over the years,'' Jack said. ''It started out as a grocery-type business, selling Jewish specialties. But over the years, that type of business has gone to big stores.''
Liberty Community News / Kathleen Evanoff
Kravitz Delicatessen, 3135 Belmont Ave., Liberty Township, is celebrating its 70th anniversary with specialty menus and extra-large sandwiches. The deli was founded in 1939 by Rose and Herbert Kravitz at 1509 Elm St. in Youngstown. The operation moved to Belmont Avenue in 1970. Pictured from left are Marc ‘‘Rock’’ Rockwell, manager; Jack Kravitz, owner; and Rose Kravitz.
The way the business adapted, Jack said, was to move more toward sandwiches and catering. Although they still sell meats by the pound and the bakery is no longer supporting itself, newer ventures have continued to make the delicatessen successful, he said.
The store is now one of the only authentic Kosher caterers, which allows them to do a lot of work with local temples.
Another big change that has boosted interest in the business is the vegetarian line of specialty foods the store provides. Of the seven soups made fresh in the store each day, one is strictly vegetarian.
The store is particularly busy during lunchtime, bringing in repeat customers, including Judges Peter Economus and Mark Belinky.
''Governor Strickland called Mark Belinky and gave him his appointment while he was having lunch here,'' Jack said.
All of the sandwiches, meats, salads and most of the breads and bagels are made fresh at the restaurant. At the height of the bagel popularity, the business expanded its bagel-making operation to a factory in North Jackson where they sold up to 25,000 bagels a day to local and international stores. The factory closed about four years ago, however, when the public's tastes changed.
When Rose and Herbert opened the store 70 years ago, they barely had enough money to survive.
Married in 1936, only two years out of high school, Rose and Herbert, who both held jobs with other companies, decided they wanted to do something on their own. With the little bit of food experience Rose acquired working in the food department at McKelveys in Youngstown, they decided to open the store that would cater to the area's growing Jewish community.
With its 12 employees, whom Rose calls her extended family, the store continues to turn a profit even in tough economic times.
''I think we do well because when things are tough, people tend to turn to the comforts they remember,'' Jack said.