All Hail the Queen! Owner Vows to ‘Keep Jewish Deli Alive on the Upper West Side’

Tuesday is opening day. Photograph by Dan Tanner.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Pastrami Queen, the legendary Upper East Side kosher deli, established in Brooklyn in 1956, is “100%” opening its Upper West Side location on Tuesday, December 8th, according to Jonah Phillips, who owns both spots with his father, Alan Phillips.

“We’re set,” the 39-year-old restaurateur told WSR, in a telephone interview on Sunday afternoon. “We’ve been cooking all week.”

Pastrami Queen is taking the place — literally — of Fine & Schapiro, on West 72nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, which closed after 93 years in that location, right before the pandemic hit.

“It left a hole in the fabric of the neighborhood,” Jonah said.

The Phillips’s also own Friedmans, a restaurant a few doors down from Fine & Schapiro. “When Fine & Schapiro went out of business, I would pop into the empty store on my way home from work,” Jonah recalled. “I didn’t see it as an opportunity, but more as a necessity” — his voice grew passionate — “to keep Jewish deli alive on the Upper West Side.”

“This was so important to us, because we are Upper West Siders,” he explained. “We have lived here for decades, so we know that this is what the area needs. I grew up on this food. My uncle was one of the partners in Murray’s on 89th and Broadway. I was born and bred on the Upper West Side. I tried to leave — I did a couple of years in California and went to college in Miami — but I ended up coming back.”

Jonah and Alan Phillips.

Working with his father is “great,” he said. “Now,” he added. “It was quite bumpy at first, but I’ve matured and we really do complement each other. It’s amazing. I don’t feel like I work. I feel like this is just what I do. And it’s brought such a cool dynamic to my father and me. We know how to operate a family business, which can be challenging. We talk to each other multiple times a day about menus and ideas.

“I think you’ll see when you come into the space that we have kept the integrity of Fine & Schapiro,” Jonah continued. “We just gave it a classic lift. And we’ve actually hired back most of the Fine & Schapiro team, so when the neighborhood comes in they’ll see the same faces. The recipes are a little different, but classic Jewish food is classic Jewish food. It’s made with high-quality ingredients and lots of heart. The matzoh balls, the kreplach, the knishes, the potato pancakes; they’re all made fresh in the back by hand. The neighborhood really needs comfort food these days, and this type of food hits the spot.”

“But isn’t it risky to open a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic?” WSR inquired.

“It’s risky to open a restaurant whether you’re in a pandemic or not,” Jonah answered. “We’re here for the long term. We know the pandemic will pass with time. Regardless of if it’s risky or not, the Upper West Side and New York City are in need of a Jewish delicatessen.”

“But what about the trend toward health and fitness in the city, away from salty meats and bread? I mean, isn’t pastrami bad for you?”

”I don’t think your cardiologist is going to recommend that you eat pastrami multiple times a week,” Jonah conceded. “However, we live to enjoy life, and part of the enjoyment is enjoying a pastrami sandwich. We offer other options; there’s more to Pastrami Queen than just a quintessential pastrami sandwich. That said, I feel it’s super important to enjoy a pastrami sandwich every now and then.”

A good time might be this Tuesday or Wednesday, when, to celebrate the opening, Pastrami Queen is rolling back the price of a pastrami sandwich to $4.99, and a hot dog to 99 cents.

Here are some additional details about Pastrami Queen sent by Jonah:

All our meats are kosher. We do not carry any dairy in the restaurant. We have staff who work with us who keep a kosher kitchen at home. We are self-certified kosher from the state.

As far as pandemic precautions, we are following the guidelines set forth by New York State and the CDC. We sanitize our store daily. Everyone wears masks and gloves. We take temperatures and communicate with our staff regularly, regarding their health.

We have 25% indoor occupancy, for now. We’ll have a few outdoor tables, but I’m not going to build a deck.

We are open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., including Fridays & Saturdays, for takeout and delivery. We do close for the high holidays.

Our guests can order from us directly at pastramiqueen.com, or call us directly at 212-877-2874.

Check out the regular menu and Hannukah menu.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 69 comments | permalink
    1. Otis says:

      I’m so happy PQ is actually “kosher” rather than “kosher style”.

      Best of luck to the Phillips family.

    2. Jana Goldin says:

      If a store is open on Saturdays, it is not kosher.

      • Shalom Stavsky says:

        A restaurant can have kosher food and still be open on Saturday. However, nowadays an Orthodox rabbi is very unlikely to give a kosher certification to a restaurant that’s open on Saturday.

        • Maxine says:

          You’re absolutely right. Not only that, they would not endorse their catering for their congregants. Even some Conservative rabbis will not allow delis that are open on Saturday to provide food in their synagogues.

      • EricUWSNYC says:

        Ben’s Deli is kosher and open on Saturdays.

        • dannyb says:

          Is that Ben’s Deli, Ben’s Deli, or Ben’s Deli? Oh wait, Ben’s Deli closed a year ago… (there were a half dozen on Queens and LI using that name. Don’t know how many are left)

          • Alex Rosenberg says:

            Wishing you all of the success in the world. Now, to make the picture complete, we need you to make ROLLED BEEF. So we all can say Rolled Beef Rolls Again.

      • Boris says:

        That’s the guideline those who charge for ‘offical’ kosher certification want you to follow when they’re not paid because owners self-certify. Religious leaders don’t have a monopoly on knowing what kosherr is.

        • Danna says:

          That’s a obvious tipping point but not the only reason Orthodox certification would be denied.
          The ingredients in all products like bread and condiments would have to be OKd and then there’s the lesser known issue of washing and checking vegetables. Plus logistics of who handles certain equipment and wine (do they serve wine?)
          They seem to have come up with a plan that works for them and I wish them and all businesses good luck in these trying times

          • Boris says:

            I didn’t want to get that into the weeds with what Kosher certification entails. The representatives of the certifying organization are not on premises 24/7 to observe everything that happens related to what you described. Mostly what they do is establish proper procedures and then periodically inspect. Unless it’s a large facility. But even then, they can’t be everywhere on premises. So if I were kosher, I would have no problem eating at a restaurant whose management both understood and followed kosher food principles without having an observer from a certifying entity.

            • Danna says:

              I hear you. On a practical level either people look for orthodox certification or they don’t . People who don’t follow the laws tend to be unaware of the details and sometimes resort to popular memes about food being “blessed by Rabbis” or that it’s just about being open Saturdays or not. I think everyone including a business should do what they want and we don’t need to second guess them.

      • Debbie says:

        So you don’t have to go there; I’m happy to and can’t wait!

        • David says:

          I agree with Debbie. Anyone who is concerned about the degree of “kosher-ness” can patronize a deli in an ultra-orthodox community where everything is closed on the Jewish Sabbath. Also, one doesn’t have to be Jewish to support a deli in our neighborhood that is owned by our fellow UWS residents.

    3. Janice says:

      I don’t eat beef and am thrilled to see they have turkey pastrami sandwiches! Can’t wait to check it out!

    4. Craig S says:

      Looking forward to patronizing.
      Love Friedman’s too!!!
      BEST OF LUCK GENTLEMEN

    5. Jo says:

      People really pay these prices for a sandwich?? Must be very good, but I’ll never know.

    6. Brooklyn exile says:

      But a deli with strictly kosher food can be open on Saturday and retain it’s official kosher status (which is different from just serving kosher food)if the owner isn’t Jewish and no Jewish employees work a Saturday shift. Complicated world. And best of luck to the Phillips. Wish I was going to be in town for their $4.99 special.

    7. Couldn’t be happier, can’t wait

    8. Marcia Talmage Schneider says:

      Can’t wait…looking forward with my mouth watering….

    9. Veg On The UWS says:

      Is there any chance that they will be serving Impossible foods? I’m a vegetarian but would like to help preserve the culture

    10. Michael L. says:

      Any chance of a non-Orthodox (Conservative) kosher certification?

      • Duh says:

        My guess would be no.
        Orthodox won’t accept the Conservative supervision but many Conservative will be ok with the self certification. Since there’s a cost for any supervision but probably not much of a gain here, don’t count on it .

    11. Allyne says:

      Any chance of getting latkes for Hanukkah!

    12. Roger Wolfe says:

      My prayers have been answered!

    13. Dov says:

      Is to the kosher certificate glatt?

      • S says:

        A Glatt certificate cannot be added as a requirement for Glatt bis that an establishment icannot be open on Shabbat. Further note a Glatt certificate only pertains to an establishment that offers meat as opposed to only dairy.

    14. PastramiBliss says:

      After literally being throw out of 2nd Avenue Deli on the UES two weeks ago for refusing to have my temperature taken by the cashier (get away from me! is this a hospital? are you a nurse?), and refusing to write down my zip code in their log book with their filthy pen ON AN ORDER TO GO, I welcome Pastrami Queen!

      • Ken says:

        If you show the same behavior there, you shouldn’t be served, order to go or not.

        • Yankl says:

          Ken is right. We each have an ethical duty to help protect our neighbors from this virus, including denial of service to those who will not help protect us all.

          • PastramiBliss says:

            I wear a mask, PROPERLY (above the nose). As I’m paying at the cashier they take my temperature? And I write down my zip code? I’m literally leaving ten seconds later, out the door! How exactly are they protecting people by imposing on me these “rules”? Answer: they’re not. It’s tyrannical nonsense, and I will not bow down to it. OF COURSE, if I were dining in, I would comply (but I don’t dine in anywhere, because that is dangerous!).

            • Dan says:

              Sounds like a misunderstanding and they thought you were going to be sitting down inside.

            • PastramiBrain says:

              It’s called contact tracing. It has been extensively used in civilized countries to reduce the spread of a deadly disease.

            • Not Impressed says:

              Pastrami Bliss, your sense of hysteria and self-entitlement are noted.
              Why not dial down your drama and just enjoy a sandwich?

            • Dan says:

              Thank you for the lesson in contact tracing and clarifying your previous point! Honestly, when you mentioned they asked for your zip code I thought it was because Pastrami Queen is engaged in deli data analytics to determine mustard preference by neighborhood. Now that we are clear, I 100% agree, my condiment choices are none of their business.

            • PastramiBliss says:

              @ Dan : You are not understanding my posts. My experience was with 2nd Avenue Deli.

      • HelenD says:

        Sheesh, didn’t you already write this in another thread? I’m a long time customer at the 2nd Ave Deli and they go out of their way to accommodate everyone. No need to trash them in this forum just because you wouldn’t comply with the rules!

      • EdNY says:

        A private establishment has the right to refuse service to anyone at any time as long as it does not fall within the standard discrimination categories.

    15. Maxine says:

      I’m there!!! Welcome, welcome, welcome! My husband and I are new residents of the UWS and were bemoaning the lack of a kosher deli. We are high upper west side: 103rd St. How far do you deliver?

    16. Mitchell Maslin says:

      Great to see Jewish Deli food back on the UWS. To the owners: From a lineage standpoint does Pastrami Queen date its ancestry all the way back to Kaplans on Roebling Street in Williamsburg Brooklyn? My Mother would eat there during the Depression, they were known for their Roumanian Smoked Pastrami which has a very distinct smell and flavor and was available years ago only from Pastrami King on Queens Blvd across from the old court house.

    17. Bobbie Meshirer says:

      The heartiest welcome and we cannot wait to welcome you.
      When do you start delivering????

    18. LBALSAM says:

      Best kosher food I’ve ever had. I’ve been to Fine in Shapiro, Ben’s Katz and Pastrami Queen. this place is head and shoulders above the rest.

      There East side location is tiny, only a few tables. Hopefully they will have more here for when we all have the vaccine.

      • SNY says:

        I wish Pastrami Queen good luck!
        But hopefully they’ll put a few bistro tables and chairs outside on the sidewalk.
        The NYCDOH (Dept. of Health) is worried about a COVID-19 surge …and not keen on indoor dining.
        And eating a hot pastrami sandwich OUTDOORS would be just great!

      • UpperWestSider says:

        I wish Pastrami Queen good luck!
        But hopefully they’ll put a few bistro tables and chairs outside on the sidewalk.
        The NYCDOH (Dept. of Health) is worried about a COVID-19 surge …and not keen on indoor dining.
        And eating a hot pastrami sandwich OUTDOORS would be just great!

    19. Lyla ward says:

      This is such a heartwarming story!I wish them continued success—hearing a positive attitude from anyone on the food business today is so comforting.

    20. ben says:

      get in my tummy you delicious pastrmi!!!

    21. Samuel Ellison says:

      I was just reading the paper and I’m glad I came across this article I have a visit the pastrami queen on Lexington Avenue for years now I know it’s a little closer to me, Best pastrami and corn beef around

    22. Mark says:

      Ben’s Deli on 38th street is temporarily closed. But all other locations are open. When Bens was opened they charged 4.99 for Fries and $5.29 for onion rings as opposed to 8 dollars at PQ. A pastrami sandwich is 13.99 at Bens and 20 at PQ. Both cure their own and pay Manhattan rent.
      One is waaaay more expensive than the other. Bens also gives you unlimited cole slaw and pickles FREE. Until i win the lottery, i will NOT be paying Pastrami Queens exorbitant prices.

      • PastramiBliss says:

        A reason could be is that Ben’s is a chain and they get a better deal for buying bulk including beef. PQ is not a chain, just one other location. Also there are price differences in the type of kosher. For example, Hebrew National, which is under Star-K supervision, is a lower price point than other kosher beef products, because Star-K is considered “borderline acceptable kosher” as opposed to other types, like OU, which is as good as it gets, except for Chassidic brands. If you want to do some investigating that may help your price anger, ask PQ what brand of beef he uses for the pastrami. I know Ben’s uses Hebrew National.

        • Michal says:

          Not sure if this warrants correction or is just another “someone is wrong on the internet!” moment, but while it’s true that HN has a less-strict / less-reliable certification, the certification in question is the Triangle-K.

          Star-K certification is considered extremely reliable.

          • PastramiBliss says:

            Ah, maybe in your circle of friends/family. But in other circles, Star-K is not welcomed. Triangle-K is even further down the kosher totem pole. No mistake here Michal. This is coming from someone who breezes in and out of multiple Jewish circles, from secular (eating bacon on Yom Kippur), all the way up to Williamsburg Chassidic.

      • Alex Rosenberg says:

        Now let’s be accurate. Ben’s does not claim that their pastrami is house made -it is Hebrew National. (Their corned beef and tongue are). PQ claims that their pastramiis house made. And many say it is very good. I would love to visit where it is made.

    23. Nat Parish says:

      if the pastrami and corned beef is as good as
      before ,we surely will be happy customers

    24. Rahel Bibi Mitiku says:

      If it’s anything like the The Stage Deli was, it’ll be the first stop I’ll make on my trip to NYC in a couple of weeks. I used to work at the Stage Deli and still very sad over it’s closing a few years back.
      Wishing you the best.

      ~ RBM.

    25. cappurple says:

      Please consider having gluten-free bread available. It’s so hard to get a sandwich made anywhere and you’re right by Friedmens that does bang-up GF business!

    26. WELCOME TO OUR NEIGBERHOOD GUYS.. I AM FROM CUBA AND I LOVE A GOOD PASTRAMI SANDWICH ON RYE BREAD AND ALL THE JEWISH FOOD. YOU WILL BE SEEING ME VERY OFTEN ! GOOD LUCK TO YOU !!

    27. warren says:

      There is nothing better than a kosher
      Pastrami sandwich.

    28. Rochelle Rachelson says:

      SOOO HAPPY. THE BEST PASTRAMI BAR NONE

    29. Tam says:

      with tax and tip, most sandwiches are over $30. That is insane, even by NYC price standards.

    30. David says:

      I am happy that Pastrami Queen is coming to the Upper Westside and providing the Fine and Shapiro team employment. I have been living on the Upper Westside for 40 years and must admit that having a deli which serves a great pastrami sandwich is a blessing. I wish Pastrami Queen much success.

      • Benn Mitchell says:

        I am so happy Pastrami Queen is here. When my wife and I would go to their Lex Ave location we would split a sandwich. The volume of pastrami on one sandwich was far more than one person could handle. Their price is not out of line. I can’t wait.

    31. Janet Daviis says:

      Welcome, welcome. As a former long time customer of Fine and Shapiro, I am excited you will be in their space. I also love Friedman’s.
      Cannot wait for my first pastrami sandwich.
      When all is back to “ normal”, I will be a Sunday regular.
      Hooray.

    32. Ronnie Zemel says:

      V cool

    33. Jerry Raik says:

      Alan and Jonah! We are all so happy and wish you the best of luck with this. We certainly hope to do our part, for me via tongue on rye with a hot dog appetizer.
      I personally love and admire that you are self certified. My favorite kind of hashgacha! All the best and Happy Chanukah!

    34. EG says:

      Chaos at Pastrami Queen this morning! Despite the $4.99 pastrami sandwich promo being on Seamless, the actual deal is in store only, one per person. They won’t honor Seamless orders or photo orders for pick up or delivery.

    35. Kathryn E Wiebusch says:

      Super!!!

    36. Thank you to the Phillips family!!! A kosher deli is a work of art in much the same way that the cable cars in San Fran are one of the elements on the National Register of Historic Places…and rightly so. Mazel Tov !!!

    37. Larry says:

      With fond memories of my youth and Pastrami King, I looked forward to welcoming Pastrami Queen to my neighborhood on the UWS and partaking of their generous introductory offer. Since their website — and this article — said that they were open from 10am to 9pm, I went along to their shop on a very cold night — tonight — at 8:30pm. They were closed! I said to the man who was taking out the trash, “I thought you were open until 9.” “Tomorrow,” he replied. So I guess I will rely on Zabar’s for my pastrami. I will not go to this shop that dragged me out on a freezing cold evening and sent me home hungry.

    38. Help The UWS says:

      So disappointing! I just took out “chicken” noodle soup for $8.75+tax. No sign of chicken. Just thin water and tasteless noodles. I’m calling them to say I hope they succeed in the neighborhood however this is not the way. I threw it out it was so bad. Campbell’s is better. And if you really want chicken soup…head over to the Brooklyn Diner…sadly closed now…temporarily I hope. Don’t waste your money at Pastrami Queen. Sorry to say this….