The History of
Our Deli

Hershel’s East Side Deli started inside of Philadelphia’s Historic Reading Terminal Market.


Steven is often addressed as Hershel by customers who don’t know his real name. Far from taking offense from the mistake, Steven says that being called Hershel brings a smile to his face. It serves as a reminder of the deli’s inspiration.

During World War II, the real Hershel and his family owned and operated a market/deli in the northeastern, Polish town of Dynow. One day, the German SS troops marched through town. Knowing what their presence meant, Hershel raced home to find only his youngest brother, Steven’s father. Hershel heroically scooped up his younger brother and took cover. Wounded and terrified, they escaped to the Russian border. From there, the two brothers were transported to Siberia for refuge. After six long years, the war was finally over; Hershel and his brother managed to immigrate to America. Their new home felt like heaven after what they had been through, they truly loved America.

Steven’s father found work in the factories of New York, then relocated to Philadelphia. Hershel used his knowledge of the family business to be employed in Manhattan’s lower East side as a chef at Kat’z Deli, in 1946. He loved what he did and used many of his family recipes he brought from Eastern Europe. After Kat’z Deli was sold in 1989, Hershel retired feeling as though he made his mark since. By then, Kat’z Deli had become a landmark in New York City.


Steven remembers his Uncle Hershel as the representation of a hard-working man who did something he loved and carried on family tradition. To honor him and continue his legacy, Steven vowed to open a deli in Philadelphia that would make his Uncle proud.
At Hershel’s East Side Deli, Steven accomplishes that goal every day. Their food is made from scratch daily and you’ll never see any pre-packaged meats or salads. They carve everything fresh right in front of their customers and make orders to the customer’s requests. Steven says, “that’s how Uncle Hirsh would have wanted it done.”