Kansas Citians have long lamented the absence of a traditional Jewish deli in the metro.
Todd Schulte and his wife, Tracy Zinn, co-owners of Uncommon Stock carry-out soup business and before that, Happy Gillis cafe in Columbus Park, are attempting simultaneously to fill that deli void and tamp down hype about it.
They plan to open a deli called Speak in the front half of Uncommon Stock, 1000 W. 25th St.
“I’m nervous about people calling it a Jewish deli,” Schulte says. “I’m German and from Baltimore, but I grew up around Jewish people and Jewish delis, and I think Kansas City needs one. I think I could pull it off, but I’m not sure that’s the safest play in the neighborhood I’m in.”
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That neighborhood, a block off Southwest Boulevard, is a spot where the arty West Side and Crossroads districts intersect with longtime Mexican businesses and residents. Speak will have some Jewish standards along with Italian and German offerings.
Schulte says it takes patience to introduce an ethnic cuisine to a neighborhood that doesn’t have that culinary tradition and plans to follow up with a two-pronged strategy: drawing customers from outside the neighborhood and adapting to existing local tastes.
He expects the menu to be limited and change often, but some kind of pastrami sandwich will always have a place on it.
“There’s a certain attention to technique that is necessary with pastrami. Steaming is involved, it’s labor-intensive to get that perfect smoky, salty, tender taste,” he says. “We’re going to make our own pastrami, and if we have turkey we’re going to roast it ourselves and the same for roast beef. We’re not going to buy lunch meats.”
Speak will be a carry-out operation only, like Uncommon Stock, but Schulte hopes to get a liquor license so customers can quaff a cold brew while waiting for their sandwiches.
▪ Speak (opening in spring), 1000 W. 25th St., 816-595-9420