Save the Deli

Southern Society: New York Corned Beef Society of Atlanta

This coming Sunday, as occurs on the first Sunday of each month, crowds of deli lovers will line up at Twain’s Billiards and Tap in Atlanta, Georgia, for their ration of corned beef. Twains is not a deli, and has never been, but it is the gathering point for the most delicious group Southern Society has ever seen. The New York Corned Beef Society of Atlanta is part club, part gathering, and 100% fress.

Howard Wurtzel (second from the left) and family

NYCBSA is the creation of Howard Wurtzel, a New York born and raised psychoanalyst, who moved to Atlanta several years back and craved a taste of authentic deli the way he used to eat it at Katz’s, in New York. But Atlanta is a city largely bereft of deli, and Wurtzel’s cravings only grew. He then recalled a period when he served at a Texan army base, decades back, when he and other Jewish GI’s cooked up some corned beef. Why not duplicate it in the land of peach cobbler? Raw corned beefs were procured from a purveyor, along with mustard and ryes, and notices went out around Atlanta’s Jewish neighborhoods. Dozens came the first month, then dozens more, until a newspaper article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution deposited hundreds of eager deli fans at the door one Sunday, draining the last brisket with the line still forming outside.

These days the New York Corned Beef Society of Atlanta has ample corned beef for the crowds, and is well versed in the cooking and slicing of the meat that customers are always satisfied. Wurtzel lords over the procession, though his children (who own and operate Twain’s), do most of the dirty work. It meets on the first Sunday of every month at Twain’s, and cooking begins in the morning so that the meat is ready to go later in the afternoon. There’s a side of coleslaw, potato salad, fries and a pickle, but thank god no mayo on the sandwich, and plenty of beers on tap.

Wurtzel’s work is astounding and truly deserves to go in some form of deli hall of fame. For the thousands of deli lovers who live far from centres of deli greatness, this should serve as inspiration to you all. No more are you allowed to kvetch and sulk. Order some meat, cook it up, invite some friends and get fressing!

New York Corned Beef Society of Atlanta
211 E Trinity Pl
Decatur, GA 30030 (Cross Street: Church Street)
*Soon Twains will likely have corned beef and pastrami on the regular menu

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