Popular Family Business Marks 100th
Birthday of its Late Founder, Rose Kravitz
When Rose Kravitz opened her deli in 1939, she had more courage than money. In fact she and husband, Herbert, had to borrow money to make change for the first day of business at what was then called the Elm Street Delicatessen. The necessary thriftiness didn’t stop there. The young couple also walked to work every day to save the money from bus fare. This charismatic business person got through the month by bartering work-for-food from the local businesses and craftsman.
At the ripe old age of 23, Rose wasn’t thinking about her pioneering role as a Mahoning Valley female entrepreneur. It was much more practical than that. This young woman just knew she needed to make a living while balancing the care of her often ill husband while still someday being able to raise a family. She took the expertise gained from working at the gourmet food department at McKelvey’s Department store and applied it to the deli business. To Rose it wasn’t about opening a business, it was about creating a lifestyle even if that meant working from the morning open until midnight.
This persistence paid off and Rose’s example of dedication and leadership will be recognized this month with the official announcement of the Rose Kravitz Women Entrepreneurship (WE) Scholarship. It is being offered in collaboration with Youngstown Community Foundation and the Women in Entrepreneurship program at the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI). Donation from the Kravtiz family will allow 15 women to participate in the program!
The official WE kickoff celebration will be at the YBI on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 from 6-7:30 pm. This is when the 15 women in the program come meet and greet each other as well as the instructor/mentors. These women had applied and were asked to share information about themselves. Applicants were reviewed to ensure they were a fit for the program.
“My mom taught us everything about this business and we wouldn’t be here without her,” says Jack Kravitz, president of Kravitz Delicatessen and youngest child of the founder.
As a tribute to Rose, some of her favorite Eastern European recipes featuring her favorite items will make a temporary return. These include such Old World favorites as stuffed cabbage, knishes, blintzes, sweet noodle kugel, brisket, as well the unique and warming Chicken Mish Mosh Soup and more familiar favorites, like corned beef and kipfels.
An extra special feature will be the limited-time release of Rose’s Original Bagel. In 1950, Rose wanted to bring this classic deli favorite to Youngstown. After being turned down by Schwebel Bakery to commercially supply the bagels, Rose’s contemporary, Dora Schwebel, taught her how to make them herself. Rose bought out a bakery’s equipment for $500 and moved it into her location. Thus, the original Kravitz Bagel was born – a sweet, boiled egg bagel that people could not get enough of. As tastes and nutritional requirements changed, the egg bagel recipe was changed to a more traditional style bagel made without egg.
“This hand boiled bagel, made with a liberal dose of egg and oil, surely didn’t fit a low-fat profile,” laughs Jack. “But, hey, they are REALLY tasty!”
Rose was born January 29, 1916 in Austria-Hungary (now part of Croatia). The King of the Hungarian empire had taken away the property of the Jews and her father was forced to smuggle in order to provide for his family. A new king came to power and made restitution to the Jews. The family decided to take this money and move to the new world because winds of change were sweeping across Eastern Europe. Rose worked until six weeks of her passing on August 28, 2011.
“An honest person wants to be double checked. A dishonest needs to be doubled checked. So, double check everyone.” – Rose Kravitz