Save the Deli

Is This the Only Counterwoman in a Jewish Deli?


Meet Diana. She’s a cool lady. Funky Rockabilly hair, a few tatoos, and mad mad knife skills.

For the past little while, Diana has been working at Brooklyn’s Mile End Delicatessen, slicing smoked meat by hand.

Rachel Cohen, the owner of Mile End, along with husband Noah Bernamoff, asked me whether Diana was the only female counterwoman in the deli business. I wracked my brain and am kind of stumped.

I’ve met about a dozen female delicatessen owners, such as Cheryl Morantz at Toronto’s Centre Street Deli, or the Markowitz sisters at Factor’s in LA. I’ve met hundreds of great deli waitresses. But I don’t think I have ever seen a woman slicing deli meat, either by hand, or on a slicing machine.

The world of countermen is very MEN centric. It’s knives and meat and big beefy hands, and is the last bastion of the deli business that’s segregated by sex.

So deli world, let me know, is Diana from Mile End the Sandra Day O’Connor (America’s first female Supreme Court justice) of the deli counter? Has she shattered the schmaltz ceiling? Should we start minting coins in her honor?

Or are there other pioneers out there, now, or before?

Let me know.

9 Responses to “Is This the Only Counterwoman in a Jewish Deli?”

  1. Pinchas Schwartz Says:

    Even the deli business need the woman’s touch.
    Maybe the first, but hope not the last.
    Kol Tov, V’bhatzlacha….

  2. DSB Says:

    Am happy to see that there’s a woman behind the counter at the Mile End Deli, but please, don’t insult us all by calling a deli that serves bacon a “Jewish Deli”! It’s a treif quasi-deli! Let’s call a spade a spade, no?!

  3. Howard Says:

    Hey David. Don’t forget Rosie Guttman in Detroit. She’s like a Mohel with a pastrami!

  4. Tim Says:

    I have had pastrami sliced by a woman at Attman’s in Baltimore.

  5. Mike Says:

    If you visit Benjis Deli in Milwaukee, Kelly will cut you a mean Corned Beef sandwich. Since buying the business in 06 I have always had at least one counter”women”, the others have moved on, but Kelly has been with us for well over a year.

  6. brad rubin Says:

    I am proud to say we at Eleven City Diner have two wonderful women (both are sisters) who not only feed close to 5000 guests a week, but are skilled at cutting lox right off the belly and pounding out serious pastrami sandwiches like rock stars. I will send David a picture !

  7. brad rubin Says:

    I am proud top say that we at Eleven City Diner have two amazing women (both sisters) that are highly skilled at hand slicing lox right off the belly
    and pounding out serious pastrami sandwiches too the tune of 5000 guests a week.

  8. Sarita Khalsa Says:

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  9. Besarion Says:

    What an intriguing post, maintain composing mate

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