Twenty-one years ago Jonathan Clark missed the delis he enjoyed while living on the East Coast so he opened one in his hometown of Beulah, L’Chayim Delicatessen.
“In the early ‘90s, you couldn’t find a real authentic deli, not even in Traverse City,” Clark explained, “and my dad was sick so I wanted to come back home.”
Clark envisioned no ordinary sandwich shop, he wanted a traditional Jewish-style New York deli, with everything baked on site, from scratch. “I like to think we’re on the edge, but traditional at the same time.”
He took pains to find a family-owned Chicago supplier for superior corned beef. He also makes a variety of baked bagels daily, homemade soup in the fall and winter, fresh salads with local ingredients, and an impressive array of dips, spreads, cheese and olives.
Some of the cleverly named signature sandwiches include not just the classic Reuben, there’s the West Bank – smoked turkey, Jarlsberg cheese, cole slaw, Russian dressing on white; the Tripoli – turkey, ham, & hard salami with provolone, lettuce, tomato & mayo on Jewish rye bread, and the Mecca -- a roast beef with Black Diamond cheese, with lettuce, tomato and Ranch dressing on a croissant. Veggie choices include homemade hummus with fresh veggies rolled in a whole wheat tortilla.
The deli also offers breakfast bagels and bagels and Lox. And pastry chef Denise Bair bakes up her signature sticky buns, nutty rolls, fruit strudel cake, scones, muffins and cookies.
Over the years, longtime friend David Scott invested in the business and Clark will admit there were some winters “when he kept us afloat.” Scott had intended to stay a silent partner when the two decided it was time to open a second L’Chayim Deli location in Frankfort two years ago.
“A second location was on the books,” Scott explained, “and we were looking for a manager when I just thought, why don’t I do it?” Scott left 23 years in a corporate job that kept him on the road more than home.
“It ended up being a blessing. My mom was diagnosed with ALS and the change gave me the flexibility to be with her, to spend evenings and take her places. I spent more time with her the last two months of her life than I had in the previous 20 years,” Scott said with a smile. “It was meant to be.”
GOOD ENOUGH FOR NYC
The Frankfort location is going on its third summer, and Scott said the L’Chyaim name has spread fast.
“People have come to expect great sandwiches, and they are!” Scott said, “A couple from New York City recently stopped by, saying it was better than the delis in their neighborhood, because the people were nicer and the food was better!” Twenty-five seasonal jobs are created by the two businesses, which have the same look, same menu and daily specials. All items are made at the Beulah location and delivered to Frankfort fresh daily.
The Beulah location is open 8-5 Mon- Sat and 11-4 on Sunday. The Frankfort location is open 9-5 Mon-Sat and 10-4 on Sunday. Find them on Facebook, email: L’firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Beulah: 231-882-5221 or Frankfort: 231-352-5220.