In March, Noah Jacob took his team on his dream trip to New York: A five-day tour of New York’s iconic Jewish delis, bakeries, and restaurants. They ate bagels and bialys at Kossars, kishke and chopped liver at Katz, smoked fish at Barney Greengrass, knishes at Yonah Schimmel’s. And of course, they took the obligatory trip to Zabar’s, strolling the aisles of the famous Upper West Side market and bakery, peering in the deli cases and watching gloved men slice sable.
He had a good excuse to take a research trip like this: His deli, Jacob & Sons, has been in the works for months, and he’s closing in on a space — one that allows him to expand the scope and scale of his business. Jacob & Sons intends to take over the former KitchenCru catering and commissary building, with extensive smoked fish and meat curing programs, a full-scale bakery, and in-house delivery for those unwilling to schlep out to Northwest Broadway.
Last fall, Jacob announced plans to open a Jewish deli in Portland. His company, Jacob & Sons, mainly consisted of take-home meals, catering, and pop-up events at that point, but he had spent time at California Jewish deli Wise Sons (plus a stint at Elephant’s Delicatessen as a teenager). He wanted to open his own place — an expansive deli, with a bakery, house-smoked fish and meats, pickles, and market staples. And, even without a space, he was set on Northwest Portland; he wouldn’t settle for anywhere else. Luckily, after a few spaces fell through, Jacob was able to tour the KitchenCru building, and hopes to move in momentarily.
“I’ve been eyeing this kitchen for months; it’s a beautiful kitchen,” Jacob says. “What we wanted to do is retail wholesale, even more than dine-in. So there will be dine-in, but we can do a lot here.”
Michael Madigan, the man behind KitchenCru, clarified that the deal is still in development, but “everybody wants it to happen.”
Walking into Jacob & Sons, the average diner will encounter a storefront, with a large deli case; the case will be filled with house-made smoked fish and cured meats, chopped liver, vegetable dishes, and deli salads like whitefish and tuna. Visitors will be able to order to-go sandwiches straight from the counter, as well as house-made bialys, meats and fish by the pound, and matzo ball soup. While waiting for an order, customers can shop the aisles for locally made products like Top Chef alum Sara Hauman’s Tiny Fish Co. tinned shad, made specifically for Jacob & Sons, or Tails & Trotters lamb merguez (obviously no pork from Tails & Trotters, considering J&S is a Jewish deli). The shop will also be home to a candy section, fridges and freezers full of take-home grocery items, and Jacob & Sons branded caviar from the California Caviar Company.
“It’ll look like a mini version of Zabar’s,” Jacob says. “It’ll be a little international market. It’s a Jewish deli, you know?”
Those who wish to dine in can stroll over to the 12-seat chef’s bar — nothing too fancy; more like what you’d see at an old-school diner — where people can watch the staff assemble sandwiches and slice meats. Architect Lorraine Guthrie (Clyde Common, Kenny & Zuke’s) and BNK Construction will work on the design and buildout, adding features like a tin ceiling, hunter green walls, and wooden and gold accents.
Behind the front-facing market and deli, Jacob & Sons will whir with activity. Jesse Dodson, the former head baker at New Seasons, will bake bialys and challah as well as pastries like knishes and rugelach. In the fish department, the restaurant will cure and smoke sable and sturgeon in the traditional Jewish deli style, as well as two different types of smoked salmon lox (traditional and pastrami spiced), three types of gravlax, and whole smoked fish like whitefish. Over in the meat department, Jacob & Sons will churn out pastrami, corned beef, smoked turkey, and tongue. The kitchen will make its own pickles, including half-sours. All of the above will be available at Jacob & Sons, but soon, the team will also start building out lines of products to land on New Seasons shelves.
Jacob & Sons should open this summer at 337 NW Broadway.
Update: April 1, 2022, at 4:40 p.m.
This story has been updated to include comment from Michael Madigan and show that the deal to take over the space is still pending.