A century after Chicago 58 Food Products’ late founder, David Bernholtz, borrowed $500 dollars to open a kosher butcher shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market, his grandchildren—and great-grandchildren—are still running the business. On Sept. 29, 2023, Chicago 58 threw a 100th anniversary barbecue for suppliers and customers, complete with fresh hot dogs and steaming brisket sandwiches on rye.
For 80 years, the Chicago 58 all-beef salamis, Lanky Franky hot dogs and beef pastramis were made with the founder’s secret old-world recipes at the company’s original factory on Lippincott Street. Diners could find them at famous Ontario delis, including Pancer’s, Shopsy’s and even The Pickle Barrel.
But by the 2000s, new health rules—plus family disputes and union issues—convinced the Bernholtzes that it was time to leave the aging warren of rooms in the historic Jewish neighbourhood. In 2005 they moved to a modern industrial building in the northwest Toronto suburb of Woodbridge.
Today, Chicago 58 no longer makes their own meat and deli products in-house. They contract it out. And they have expanded into distributing other food lines, too, like lasagna, cheese, coffee, tuna and even bacon, supplying restaurants and grocery chains like Farm Boy, Sobeys Longos and Loblaws.
Now, on the company’s centennial, the family is working to preserve the founders’ old-fashioned ways of doing business, while adapting to modern customers’ eating habits.
The CJN Daily‘s Ellin Bessner visited the warehouse to speak to current president Teddy Bernholtz, a grandson of the founder, and also Yittie Starkman, his aunt, aged 96, who worked at her father’s plant for decades.
What we talked about
- Read more about Chicago 58’s story and watch a documentary video on the history of the company
- Is the deli dying? Read more in The CJN (from 2009)
- The owner of Vancouver’s Omnitsky Kosher Deli is looking to close or sell, on The CJN Daily
The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer.Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.