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A line around the block for Manny’s

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By Sophie Brochu
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A community rallies behind a Chicago institution.

The family-owned and operated Manny’s Deli has been a Chicago institution since 1942. Famous for their NYC-style signature Reubens, corned beef, bagels, blintzes, and noodle kugel, Manny’s devout following has spanned generations, from the South Loop to the suburbs of Chicago.

But on July 14th, Manny’s took to Twitter to ask for support during this tumultuous time. The tweet, which is still pinned to the top of their account, has been retweeted over 2,000 times and liked by over 8,000.

I caught up with fourth-generation co-owner, Dan Raskin, as he was on the way to make deliveries. “I had a meeting with my dad. We said, if this keeps up, it’s not good. We talked to the marketing team. They said, just be honest, so that’s exactly what we did.”

In the days that followed, hundreds of loyal diners lined up (while socially distancing) outside of their favorite deli in a pledge of support. Manny’s, who kept on all of their employees through the pandemic, was overwhelmed with the orders that poured in.

“We didn’t expect a response like this,” said Raskin. The story made its way from local news outlets to NPR.

“A landmark like Manny’s is also a link to history,” Scott Simon of NPR wrote. “You can point to where Barack Obama talked politics over pastrami, Oprah had apple sauce on her latkes, and where your grandfather went when he got tired of dieting.”

Manny’s followed up with several tweets thanking Chicago, and assuring their fans that they would make it, but you can still hear the strain in Raskin’s voice.

“You have to keep working hard to remind customers that we’re here. We’ve grown mostly by word-of-mouth over the generations, and we still need that kind of support. Just remember to share with friends and family.”

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