CHICAGO — It was a beautiful Tuesday in August and when one thinks about Chicago culinary institutions, Manny’s Deli comes to mind for many.
Now the delicious tradition is celebrating 80 years.
Longtime visitor Rick Baumgarten has requested the establishment for decades.
“It’s just an institution,” he said. “Great sandwich. Great potato pancake.”
For Baumgarten’s bride, Esther, Tuesday was her venture to the popular eating destination.
“I always said to him, ‘you need to take me to Manny sometime,’ and here we are,” she said. “We’ve been married for 52 years so that’s really like sometime.”
Manny’s opened in 1942 by Jack Raskin, an Eastern European immigrant who named the place after his son Manny.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was on hand Tuesday to mark the celebratory occasion. While he was candidate Pritzker made Manny’s a must-stop on the campaign trail, as did many others, from Rich Daley to Barack Obama to Bill Clinton.
Manny’s is now owned and operated by fourth-generation Raskin, Dan, who took over ownership several years ago. He says politicians love this place because it draws a cross-section of voters while selling a thousand pounds of corn beef and pastrami daily.
“Whether you are Republican or Democrat, no matter what it is, they all like to come here and see different people and be seen,” Rasskin said.
Raskin says he practically grew up in the restaurant, taking the reigns from mom and dad. He was primed and prepped to continue the family recipe of success. But Raskin is quick to add in order to keep the customers happy, the employees must be satisfied first.
During the pandemic, no one was let go as Manny’s pivoted to pick up and delivery only. Dan even did some of the driving.
It’s part of that dedication that has made Manny’s last for decades and why locals are hoping for another 80 more.