Gerard Rudofsky and his son, Jason, closed their 35-year-old restaurant, Zaidy's Deli, last October, marking the end of one of Denver's most popular eateries for Jewish families and fans of deli fare. But at the time, the owners left open the possibility that Zaidy's could reopen at some point in a new location.
At the time of the closing, Jason Rudofsky cited the pandemic, the end of a lease on an aging building, and a changing Cherry Creek neighborhood (with very little public parking and years of construction) as the main forces behind the decision to close. But the loyal customer base still needed a gathering place, and the menu of home-style soups, hefty pastrami sandwiches, baked goods and other comforting eats still held appeal.
Beth Ginsberg saw value in what Zaidy's still has to offer, so she and business partners Max Appel and his son, Joel, have purchased the restaurant and will reopen it at 600 South Holly Street, in the former home of Ambli Mexico (which relocated to 2101 Ursula Street in Aurora). Construction is now under way, and Ginsberg says she hopes to have Zaidy's open by the end of June. The biggest part of construction right now is the addition of a retail section in the space so that customers will be able to purchase meats, cheeses, salads and other take-home goods.
Ginsberg has made a career of saving Denver neighborhood favorites and breathing new life into them. "I lived in Singapore for a long time and started a bagel company there," she explains, adding that when she moved back to Denver, she bought the aging Bagel Store (at 942 South Monaco Parkway) and ran it for nine years before selling it in 2017 to another bagel expert, Joshua Pollack (who now operates it as Rosenberg's Kosher).
In 2019, Ginsberg bought Trompeau Bakery from founders Barbara and Pascal Trompeau, who she says were ready to exit the bakery business. "Over the years I've been buying underperforming businesses and helping them grow," she says, adding that maintaining continuity of the staff and the food are of utmost importance to her.
When she took over Trompeau, she kept the entire kitchen staff so the baguettes, croissants and other breads and pastries would remain consistent. The result of her attention was a good 2020 for the bakery. "People just kept coming," she notes. "We were not even closed for one day during the pandemic."
That commitment to consistency will be obvious at the new Zaidy's, as well. At age eighty, Gerard Rudofsky will be part of the team; Ginsberg says she's committed to keeping him on board for at least three years to tap into his wealth of knowledge and his rapport with Zaidy's guests. The recipes are coming, too, though the menu will be consolidated somewhat, and Ginsberg is currently hosting focus groups to taste pastrami and other deli meats to make sure the best products are on offer.
The core menu of sandwich classics will be there, Ginsberg explains, and customers will also be able to build custom sandwiches based on a list of ingredients (rather than listing every possible permutation of ingredient combos, as is common on many long deli menus). And there will be an option to order each sandwich cold, Reuben style (grilled and cheesy) or "Zaidy's style," which Ginsberg isn't divulging yet, since she wants at least one new surprise for guests.
There's enough room at Zaidy's that the deli will produce its own bagels and rye bread; other pastries and breads (such as brioche) will come from Trompeau. Ginsberg is also taking over the space next door, which will be called, appropriately, Zaidy's Next Door; it will have a cabaret license and will be used for special events. The main deli will also have a liquor license, though the focus will still be on family-friendly dining. Ginsberg notes that she's keeping Ambli's open kitchen and most of the original layout, and she adds that "parking is tremendous. I think people will drive an extra ten minutes to get to a place that has easy access."
Ginsberg plans to throw a grand-opening party once Zaidy's reopens, inviting guests in for samples of old favorites as well as new menu items.