Tuesday, July 30, 2019

New York Kosher at 2900 West Devon in Chicago. The history of this grocery store, deli, and their famous sign.

I was born, raised, and grew up 1 & ¼ blocks away. New York Kosher, or as my parents call it; Sinai 48. The West Ridge neighborhood has the unusual distinction of being the center of two types of Jewish communities at different times. Back in the 1950s and 60s, this was a heavily conservative/reform Jewish neighborhood. Then it became the center of an orthodox Jewish community. Today, there are few remnants from the old neighborhood. 
Double-sided porcelain and neon sign from the 1950s.
The New York Kosher grocery and deli on the northwest corner of Devon and Francisco Avenues was one of them. Just off the north-east corner is Levinson's bakery and a block further west is the Tel-Avia Kosher Bakery, which falls into the same category.

The number 48 in the oval on the top of the sign refers to Best Kosher's Sinai 48 brand. Based in Chicago, Best Kosher Foods Corporation is a subsidiary of Sara Lee Corporation, specializing in the preparation of kosher meats, including all-beef frankfurters and sausage links, bagel dogs, deli meats, low-fat meats, meat snacks, and pickles. The company's brands include Best's Kosher and Sinai 48. 

Best Kosher was founded in Cincinnati in 1886 by a Jewish German immigrant named Isaac Oscherwitz who opened a small butcher shop and began making kosher sausage. He offered a higher standard of glatt kosher meats with the Shofar and Sinai 48 Kosher labels for meats that were double inspected. 

Isaac Oscherwitz died in 1925, the same year that his youngest sons, Harry and Philip, moved to Chicago to establish a sister company called Best's Kosher Sausage Company. All Best Kosher products are made at the company's Chicago USDA-inspected plant.

The New York Kosher sign was removed when the owner received a letter from the City of Chicago to remove the sign because the size of the sign was not allowed to hang over the sidewalk and the owner was forced to take it down. It had been hanging there for 40 years. 
The sign was removed after a documentary crew filmed the removal of the sign on November 4, 2011. It was sold to a large Chicagoland antique dealer that specialized in large commercial signs.

Copyright 2019 by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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