Bethesda Deli Wars?
Fewer than four months after the opening of Bethesda's first Jewish deli, another is slated to open around the corner.
In November, Uptown Deli, the first New York-style Jewish delicatessen in Bethesda, opened on Norfolk Avenue.
Coincidentally, fewer than four months later, another Jewish deli has sprouted up on the same block. Oy vey! Let the battle begin.
The new deli, Bubby’s, is slated to open at 11 a.m. Thursday at 4866 Cordell Ave. Both delis offer New York favorites like reubens, hot corned beef sandwiches, pastrami sandwiches and matzo soup.
“The best quality and best service will win out in the end,” said Howard Wasserman, manager of Uptown, the first deli to open.
Wasserman is no stranger to the manager of Bubby’s, Jeff “Louie” Manas, who managed Long Island Louie’s in Rockville for eight years. Wasserman, who was in wholesale foods at the time, would sell to Manas. Both have been in or around delis for the majority of their lives.
Wasserman, whose father worked in kosher meat, has seen a lot of repeat customers in the past few months. One Bethesda man comes in to Uptown every morning for French toast. Another customer says she has been coming in one or two times a week.
“I’m totally a fan of this place, but I’ll probably try [Bubby’s] out,” she said.
Tom Kraly of Bethesda and his son Nick stopped at Uptown for lunch.
“You still got the matzo soup?” asked Kraly, senior. “That sounds awesome.”
His son was surprised not to see the option for a sandwich on a bagel on the menu.
“That’s not really a tradition around here. That’s more of a New York thing,” said Kraly to his son, who lives in Manhattan.
“But it says real New York deli out front,” said Nick after his bread had been quickly substituted for a bagel.
Kraly plans on trying Bubby’s as well.
Wasserman, the self-proclaimed “Deli Maven,” said Bubby’s is taking off his success.
“He anointed himself ‘Deli Maven,’” said Manas with a laugh. “I have no thoughts on that really, none whatsoever. All I know is people know me as Louie.”
The word Bubby is Yiddish for grandmother. A Bronx native, Manas wants to have a “Bubby’s Wall,” where pictures of patrons’ grandmothers will be displayed.
“So after, you know, a few months, we’ll have 20, 30, 40 Bubbies up on the wall watching over us. I’m going to put my Bubby up there first,” said Manas, who added it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he found out his grandmother’s name wasn’t actually Bubby.
Manas echoed Wasserman's sentiment, agreeing that the best quality will win.
“[Uptown was] very good. The pastrami was nice and fatty and cooked well,” said Nick Kraly.
“Good for the heart, right?” asked his father.
“I think so.”