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Katz's Deli - Owner is extremely rude

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This is a true story. Today my wife and 1-year old son and I were in the Yorkdale area so we stopped into Katz's Deli and Corned beef emporium for Lunch. We spent about $25 there in total, the food was fine and the people who work there are very helpful and nice. Unfortunately this doesn't extend to everyone there. When we left, we were pushing my son in the stroller, so we took the ramp out, which feeds to the sidewalk on Dufferin St., rather than the staircase that goes directly into the parking lot. So we re-entered Katz's parking lot from Dufferin St. through the driveway, put our son's stroller in the car and were about to pull out of our parking space when a large grey SUV pulled in front of us and the couple inside rolled the window down.

The man in the drivers' seat asked me what we had eaten in there?

I guessed at first that they were just curious and wanted to know what the restaurant served (It's pretty obvious from the outside though). We had a Corned Beef Plate, I told him. He asked how much it was and I told him it was $8.95. He responded, this isn't a parking lot for goodwill. I was wondering at this point if he was trying to say I didn't spend enough in the restaurant. At that point I was no longer interested in the conversation and asked him to please move his car.

"I'm talking to you", was his reply. This was not a friendly conversation. He had actually boxed me in so I couldn't move my car. He then informed me that I was on private property and that the parking lot was for customers of the restaurant, not Goodwill customers (Goodwill is one door north of Katz's, I would later learn). When I insisted I was a restaurant customer, he yelled back, "I saw you coming down Dufferin". When I informed him very loudly that I used the ramp for my son in his stroller, I could see him realize that he had made a mistake and I think he rolled up his window and started backing away. He may not have even heard me when I shouted that he didn't have to worry about me using his parking lot again and that I would never eat there again.

We drove out but actually felt the need to return to the restaurant and discuss this incident with the management. So all three of us returned and met with a very nice manager who confirmed that it was, in fact, the owner who had harassed us. Katz himself. She gave us a complimentary meal voucher (which I don't plan to use) and took our number so Katz can call us later to apologize (My wife wanted an apology, I don't really need one). She said that people parking in Katz's lot to go to Goodwill is a real problem, but we all agreed that was no excuse for the owner forcibly confining us. I would prefer that he simply say he won't accuse people anymore without having his facts straight.

I went back into the restaurant to complain because if that had not been the owner, someone should be disciplining that person for harassing customers. Since that was Katz himself, I just have to assume that that's how he wishes to run his business and if it alienates customers, so be it. He just should know that there are consequences to such behaviour and if he is the owner he has to remember that the customers are his boss. That is why I am posting this comment here. I am not saying don't go to Katz's. They've lost my business and that's enough for today. Many good people work there and I wouldn't deprive them of their livelihood.

Katz should be focused more on his restaurant and his customers than his parking lot. But what made it really funny is that he does kind of look like the guy on the sign, That's my rant, thanks for listening.

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  1. I stopped going to Katz because of the way the management (husband and wife team back in the 80's) mistreated the counter staff. The food was good and QPR fine, but Katz was a dictator then, and is apparently still a control freak.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jayt90

      I don't thnk it's the same owner as back in the 80's, I beleive a relative owns it - possibly the founder's son.

      Here is the obituary for Lilian Katz, who started the deli: http://www.thestar.com/article/107757

    2. I had a run in with one of them too at the ordering counter before when I asked why one sandwich in my bag was so much bigger than the other. However this was a short chubby woman, not a man, but she was definitely in charge. First she scolded me saying the sandwiches are more than generous to begin with and then proceeded to blame the meat cutter for giving me too MUCH in one sandwich (they were two "large on a kaisers" and the Pastrami was woefully small and chincey compared to the corned beef. I told her if she has the nerve to charge $10 for a sandwich it should at least be a large size, and more importantly, consistent. Have not been back since, and don't miss it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: duckdown

        The OP probably has good reason to avoid Katz's in the future. Namely, the owner's astoundingly uncharming confrontation style as detailed in the OP's missive. But there are a couple of other good reasons to stay out of Katz's. 1. Katz's deli food is lame, lame, lame. Edible, but not much more than that. There are a half dozen better Jewish delis in and around Toronto, including Moe Pancer's, a 15-minute drive away. Pancer's is about the same price as Katz's, with table service, so you don't have to endure Katz's dreary cafeteria line. And 2. Katz's parking lot, in which the confrontation took place, is awash with potholes (at least it was last summer, when last I visited). Your car could disappear in one of those craters and never be seen again. How Katz's has survived all these years eludes me. Location, location, location, I suppose. And its casual clientele don't know the difference between mediocre and good deli nosh.

        Moe Pancer's
        3856 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M3H3N3, CA

        1. re: juno

          I didn't comment on the quality of their food beyond saying it was fine because people on this board generally know that their food is ok, but nothing special. Our corned beef and soups were cold by the time we paid, got settled at our table, and set up our baby in a highchair with food. That's certainly our own fault. My main goal was to make this post about the rudeness of the owner, the likes of which I have never experienced in my life. I won't miss much in boycotting Katz's as I can get better at many other delis in the city (I like Caplansky's). I know great deli. Last October I ate at 2nd Avenue Deli in New York. That's great deli.

          356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

      2. Consistency is unusual at Toronto restaurants, but Katz's is certainly consistent.

        The good about Katz's: nothing ever changes....
        The bad about Katz's: nothing ever changes....

        If you liked something there way back when, you likely still will. From their cabbage rolls (the best in Toronto to many; candied sweet to me) to the knishes (great beef filling in inedible pastry); to the kishka (not great, but still Toronto's best not including my own), to the chopped liver (not as good as at Centre St, but decent nonetheless).

        They make almost everything in house. The pastrami is fine when hot, fresh, and slathered in their "sauce" - which is now provided only if you ask. They won't hand cut their meat (even if they aren't busy and you offer to pay extra) - possibly because they can't - and their meat is deadly dry when it isn't fresh. When they cater, you take the meat or dairy tray they offer or you don't - "custom" isn't part of the deal.

        The smoked meat is poor, the chicken soup pitiful, and and the made-in-house franks (with quality beef and a natural casing) almost tasteless.

        All things considered, you could do worse, and it's fine if you happen to be in the vicinity - certainly better than the Pickle Barrel at Yorkdale across the street.

        All that said, the OP commented on the owner. This is another consistent thing about Katz's and, unfortunately, it isn't a good thing. Jeff Dorfman qualifies as an a-hole raised to an exponential power. He tries to take care of his customers but, as the OP noted, he has never mastered the art. Watching him berate his staff, often for no apparent reason, is upsetting and sometimes scary. Unfortunately, Jeff is not playing the classic role of the gruff, insulting deli man. Jeff is a noxious, undisciplined #@%

        5 Replies
        1. re: embee

          Thanks for setting me straight on the name. When I asked the manager if the owner was Katz, she didn't deny it. So I assume it's Jeff Dorfman that confronted me. Apologies to people named Katz everywhere.

          1. re: embee

            Thanks a lot, embee. Now, yet again, you have me craving kishka. I may need a trip to caplansky's this afternoon to get my fix.

            1. re: embee

              It has now been four days and the apology call promised to my wife by the manager did not come. Your opinion of him is reinforced.

              1. re: Sherm_TO

                And he did eventually call and leave us a message. My wife returned his call and he followed a 5 second apology with a 3 minute justification of his actions. So he's not really very sorry overall.

                1. re: Sherm_TO

                  He's probably sorry that you're writing about it on CH more than anything else.

            2. This is so disappointing to hear. Although I would not go there for most of their food, I do have a thing for their kishka and gravy. I used to frequent Katz' as a kid with my Mom and Bubbie, but this will definitely make me think twice about returning.

              1. =( Sorry to hear about this. I love a good deli sandwich...but I'll think twice about going now. I understand his frustration, but it sounds like it was poorly handled...