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An Ann Arbor institution: Zingerman's Delicatessen celebrates 40 years in business

Posted at 7:05 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 09:24:33-05

From humble beginnings in a 13,000 square foot building — Partners Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw have built a business powerhouse over the decades.

It all started with corned beef sandwiches and other specialty items for sale in the delicatessen.

“From day one, we’ve always been pushing ourselves to get better,” said Ari Weinzweig. “Like to keep just raising the bar so it tastes really fabulous, it’s never about the reputation, it’s always about the quality of the product and the quality of experience.”

Zingerman’s gets high marks for both customers that have only enhanced its reputation and popularity.

“We need our customers and our staff more than they need us, so it’s really been a commitment to continually deliver great experiences,” said Weinzweig.

Bea Thaman started working at Zingerman's part-time during college. She is now the specialty foods Manager.

“Having all of the employees be invested into the business makes a huge difference in the day-to-day work and I think you can feel it as well when you’re shopping here because everyone here is excited to be here,” said Specialty Foods Manager Bea Thaman.

Success allowed the partners to think bigger, expanding the operation at the deli and over the last 25 years adding more than a dozen complementary businesses. A bakehouse that makes the bread and bagels they sell. Coffee roasting, creamery, and more. Zingerman’s mail-order business really took off during the pandemic.

“It’s steadily grown and grown and grown to the point where it’s now our biggest part of the organizational sales,” said Weinzweig.

Encouraging online ordering for food pickup was a pandemic pivot, the addition of kiosks inside and outside the deli also help reduce wait times and lines.

A new book by Micki Maynard – published in conjunction with the anniversary -- is on sale now in bookstores—and Zingerman's.

“Satisfaction guaranteed” details the practices and vision that have helped make the deli and the Zingerman’s community of businesses -- successful.

“They have this philosophy of a 3-legged stool, which is good food, of course, good service and good finances,” said Micki Maynard.

“They don’t shoot for a specific net income goal. They want enough money to keep the lights on, pay their employees a decent wage and to pay good benefits and then to re-invest back in the businesses,” said Maynard.

“We’re trying to base our work on dignity and involving people instead of excluding people on sharing financial information with the staff instead of hiding it, on treating customers and everybody like the intelligent, creative human being that they are and just trying to continually get better and never take anything for granted,” said Weinzweig.