LIBERTY – The pandemic hit at the worst possible time for Kravitz Delicatessen.
The business at 3135 Belmont Ave. in Liberty Township was readying for its annual corned beef festival, which is centered around St. Patrick’s Day, when the governor banned public gatherings.
Kravitz also operates the Garden Café at Fellows Riverside Gardens. Its catering company, Inspired Catering, is the exclusive caterer for Fellows and the Saxon Club in Austintown.
“We were all set for a big weekend when [Mill Creek MetroParks] closed the café, our biggest catering event of the year – the Goodwill Gala – was canceled two days before it was to take place. And we basically couldn’t do St. Patrick’s Corned Beef Fest,” says Jack Kravitz, owner and operator.
After being closed for a month, the Liberty location reopened in May for curbside pickup only. It later reopened for dining in.
The Garden Café will remain closed until at least April, Kravitz says.
Companywide, revenues fell by 50% in 2020 because of the closures, according to Kravitz. The Liberty location, which has always primarily been a carryout business, is operating at about 75%.
Kravitz Deli employs 30 and has been in continuous operation since 1939.
The pandemic forced Inspired Catering to shift its major events – Mother’s Day brunch, Easter brunch and Passover Seder – to take-home sales. The traditional holiday meals were sold as carryout packages, Kravitz says. Inspired Catering also developed a box lunch program for office events, funerals and parties.
Inspired Catering and Kravitz have helped the community during the pandemic, he continues. When the deli first closed, the staff delivered all the prepared corned beef and cabbage dinners to police departments in Liberty, Youngstown, Hubbard and Youngstown State University, and gave all perishables to the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
Kravitz and Inspired Catering have adopted St. Elizabeth in Youngstown as its charity. Through sponsors, Kravitz sends box lunches to staffers on the COVID-19 floors and the emergency room.