Few people know this, but smack dab in the middle of hipster haven Williamsburg, Brooklyn is one of New York’s finest makers of Kosher delicatessen products. Empire National is a family operation, run by Eddie Weinberg and his wife Karen, and in a city that is increasingly manufacturing its deli further and further afield, Empire National is a blessed relic…just over the river from Manhattan, blocks from the L train, right in the midst of the city’s most exciting neighborhood. For those of you New Yorkers that love Kosher deli, it is nothing short of a blessing.
Eddie’s grandfather Hugo Weinberg moved to New York from Germany shortly before the war, and used his skills as a butcher to open his own kosher butcher and saussage making operation in the Bronx. For three decades it served the vast Jewish communities there, until a fire eventually destroyed the place and forced Empire National to move to the then desolate and industrial Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.
Now, the Bronx is the downtrodden area while Williamsburg has become one of the hottest hoods in New York…one with a huge population of Jews, ranging from younger photographers and artists to some of the largest Hassidic communities in the world. Amidst this…the vintage stores and tiny synagogues, Eddie and Karen and their employees turn out incredible barrel cured pastrami, gorgeous corned beef, and some of the finest tongue anywhere. They supply deli meats to some of the finest delicatessens in New York, including Liebman’s in the Bronx, the former 2nd Ave Deli (and likely the new incarnation as well), and Ben’s Best in Queens. They also make great hot dogs, which you may have eaten from a pushcart somewhere in the steaming city. In a nation where delis have been forced to choose between ultra-orthodox and ultra-expensive glatt kosher meat (which many find inferior), and non-kosher meat, the niche that an old fashioned kosher producer like Empire National has is crucial.
Best of all, you can buy direct from the factory . So if you’re out reading VICE magazine while listening to the Bloc Party, be sure to swing on over to the corner of Grand and Berry and pick up some Empire National hot dogs, tongue or salami from Eddie or Karen…seriously, what could be more ironic than that?