OCEAN CITY – With an eye on keeping traditions and big appetites alive, Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen has brought in authentic eats Ocean City has not seen in over 15 years.
Founder and largest shareholder Warren Rosenfeld is a retired lawyer, real estate developer and corporate CEO from the Washington D.C. area. He and his wife moved to their vacation home in Ocean Pines when he was still a CEO for a technology company in northern New Jersey.
“I moved here with my wife five years ago when we became empty nesters,” he said. “We had vacationed here our whole lives, even as kids.”
Last May, after commuting to his work for two years, Rosenfeld retired at the age of 57.
“I had a half way decent couple of months walking in the morning, working out in the afternoon, but I don’t play golf, I don’t play cards and I don’t fish. What I have done my whole life is create and grow businesses, and that’s what I really enjoy,” he said.
Rosenfeld’s grandparents and father immigrated from Germany in 1940, and his grandfather immediately opened a bakery in the Eastern Market of Washington D.C that he co-owned with his brother. In 1986, his father and mother purchased a diner two blocks from the White House and operated it for 18 years and Rosenfeld and his siblings helped at the restaurant in their spare time.
“Even when I became a lawyer at 25, I still went in to help,” he said. “That kind of stuff gets in your blood, as a family we have wonderful memories of the diner.”
Having vacationed in Ocean City his entire life, Rosenfeld always noticed the absence of a traditional Jewish deli and upon retirement he decided it was time to make it happen.
After studying the menus of several well-known Jewish delis across the country, by Sept. 1, 2012, Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen’s extensive menu was complete, and Rosenfeld focused on finding the perfect location. Eventually, his brother recommended looking into hiring a local restaurant consultant, and with a quick research Rosenfeld quickly came across SoDel Concepts, which under Matt Haley operates nine successful restaurants in the resort area.
“SoDel Concepts and I set out to find a space … and then the old Sunshine House location here opened up in the middle of November and I immediately hopped on it,” Rosenfeld said.
The location on 63rd Street and Coastal Highway is Rosenfeld’s dream location with a front wrap-around porch that seats 50, plus a small amount of inside seating and an uncovered picnic area.
“I didn’t want a carry-out business, I wanted a sit-down business, and from the beginning I wanted to build a large porch in the front and on the side … I also realized that sooner rather than later I wanted the porch enclosed so it could be a year-round destination,” Rosenfeld said.
Starting today, Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen will be open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 7 p.m., and beginning Saturday, June 15, it will be open all week until 9 p.m.
“The whole goal here is to be a full service restaurant — breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Rosenfeld said.
Rosenfeld’s will offer sit-down wait staff service, take out service, platters, catering, deliveries and a grocery-like menu of bagels, whole challah and rye bread loaves, and lox, sliced meats, cheeses, smoked fish, and deli salads sold by the pound for enjoyment at home. All bagels will be baked on the premises, and the pickle barrels, smoked fish, knishes and bagel dough are brought in from New York. All of the deli meats are supplied by Saval Foods of Baltimore.
“We cook our own corn beef and brisket on premises,” Rosenfeld said. “We try to make whatever we can on site ourselves, so we make our own Matzo ball, we make our own noodle kugel, we make our own chopped liver, which is a big deal, and we make all of our own salads.”
The delicatessen will be as authentic as possible, although it will not be strictly kosher. Traditional Jewish fare along with popular diner meals will be served. Bagels, lox, challah, matzo brei, whitefish, herring, knishes, latkes, blintzes, chopped liver, a full array of deli meats and cheeses, chicken in the pot, matzo ball soup, and many over-the-top desserts will be served, among other choices. Large portions and huge deli sandwiches will be the delicatessen’s trademark.
A huge variety of desserts are commissioned from four different bakeries from Salisbury to New York. The signature drink is, of course, the New York Chocolate Egg Cream and is made with one type of chocolate syrup, U-Bet Syrup. Also, six different varieties of Dr. Brown soda are chilled in a 1948 G&E refrigerator on the front porch ready to be served.
“I get fantastic pleasure out of bringing this type of food to the Maryland-Delaware resorts,” Rosenfeld said. “We have received tremendous feedback…people I don’t even know hugging and kissing me as they leave, thanking me…”