this place is incredible in taste and model. the deli was the original installation by a pair of Jewish men wishing for a deli similar to the ones they grew up with. let me say, the deli itself is impressive. there is a constant line out the door for ordering food and when you walk in there are full meat, cheese and salads refrigerated cases, plus a dried goods and sundries section. the shop is remarkable with the huge menu above the counter and so much going on at all times.
there are two things in particular part about Zingerman’s that i most appreciated. one is their tasting policy. you can literally try anything you would like in the store: dry good, dessert, meal, bread, cheese, meat, etc. actually, upon being told this by two separate employees my response was “what if i wanted to try everything in the store?” he said that it would be allowed, that no one had every done that before, and that it would take awhile and he only had until 6:45pm. my immediate thought: i’m in. however, i didn’t have that much time either so i just tried the few things that were his favorites, some bread, and a balsamic vinegar, bought a pretzel roll and a gift for my mom. but im still dreaming about being the first person to try everything in Zingermans.the other great thing about Zingermans: they love local. actually every branch of their place as they grew was taken on by someone in the local community. the deli, the cheesemaker, the ice cream maker, the bakery, the coffeehouse – it sounds a bit like a monopoly, but its a monopoly of local. as they wanted to add more to their offering they empowered people they were in business with to take on the different ventures. they all own the different parts, but they act together to bring a great total product to ann arbor.
not to mention, they have GREAT service. everyone in the place is calm and very helpful, despite the rush and the people pouring in and out….actually, i was impressed with the friendly service. having lived in the South i enjoy good service. (there every other waitress calls you “sweetheart” or “honey” or something along those lines. strange at first, but i did grow accustomed to it.) being back in Orlando the most amiable service i see is either at a local business or often a conjured version of friendliness. but Zingerman’s staff did not have the forced Disney feel of ecstatic joy. they were just glad to meet you and wanted to help. actually, i asked the employees about it and they said that as part of training you have to work a shift with the other folks that work in that department and see how you fit with them. speaking of, i’m sure i’m not the first to have noticed that Zingerman’s runs well as they publish their training manual.
as this to say, Zingerman’s is a commendable place and in fact were featured speakers at this years BALLE conference that john attended. (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies)
if you find it interesting enough to support, they have a great mail order service.
also worth mentioning, they have a really great font that was created by Steve Muno, who also worked on creating their cheese line. its their typeface for everything and helps create the atmosphere of the shop.