Buzz is starting to percolate about Stopsky's Delicatessen, the Jewish delicatessen with a Pacific Northwest spin that's opening on Mercer Island in mid-May. Is it because Crave and Top Chef alum Robin Leventhal is heading up the kitchen? Or because there is a dearth of Jewish delis in our part of the world? As the images above show, the interior is obviously still a work in progress (though Stopsky's did get their front door signage up late last week). Stopsky's owner Jeff Sanderson says he and his wife were brainstorming potential executive chefs for their new project when his wife Googled "Seattle top chefs" in hopes of alighting upon a well-known local chef who might consult on the project. Thanks to the SEO magic of the fine television show on Bravo, Leventhal's name popped up and caught their attention. "I wanted to do much more than consult," says Leventhal.
Assisting Leventhal will be Columbia City Bakery co-founder and Canlis vet Andrew Meltzer. At Meltzer's request, the restaurant scoured the Internet until it found "the Dutchess," a hard-to-find hand-powered press used to divide bagel dough into equally sized portions. The roughly 20-year-old press recently arrived well-used from a tiny town in Minnesota and got a serious cleaning.
These days it's in vogue for a restaurant to position itself as a space for the community, but Sanderson is arranging a giant tribute to the area's Jewish community in the form of a collection of vintage photographs that will hang on the wall of the dining area. Sanderson is still taking photographs of both Jewish and non-Jewish life at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week Leventhal starts training staff and pickling (dills and half-dills will be used in-house and be available at Stopsky's retail counter). She and Sanderson shy away from calling Stopsky's a "deli" since they say that term connotes processed cheeses and giant, heaping sandwiches that leave you uncomfortably full. Please, call it a "delicatessen".
Leventhal is planning to offer upgraded staples like Wagyu pastrami, beef salami ground in-house, kreplach, rugelach, smoked whitefish and even a whitefish schnitzel, pan-seared with a matzoh crust. Stopsky's will offer breakfast and lunch to start, and dinner hours will follow later in the summer. Diners can have the sit-down experience or hit up the takeout and retail counter, where baristas will also be serving up the first Stumptown coffee to be found on Mercer Island.
Just don't come looking for a Brooklyn-style New York deli, says Sanderson. He's not importing meats from Brooklyn or adorning the walls with Yankees or Brooklyn Dodgers paraphernalia. "That's a Disney experience."
· @StopskysDeli [Twitter]
· Stopsky's Delicatessen [Website]
· Stopsky's in the Name of Love [Nancy Leson]