Jewfro: The Adventures Of Deli Man And BRUW Boy
These are the stories of two cornerstones of civilization — deli and coffee — and two stand-up guys toiling to make our lives just a little more civilized.
Stuart Litt, Deli Man
Stuart knows corned beef. He knows a good day is when he goes through 100 pounds of corned beef. He knows St. Patrick’s Day was a great day — 150 pounds. Like many deli men before him and elsewhere in the deli diaspora, Stuart was born into the blessing and burden. His dad, Bernie, owned Billy’s Delicatessen on Seven Mile and Livernois. In 1972, Bernie bought the Hygrade Deli.
Hygrade started two decades earlier and six blocks east at Detroit’s Western Market. Named for the market’s anchor, Hygrade Food Products, the deli moved to its current home when Western Market became the interchange of I-75 and I-96. This brought Hygrade closer still to their core clientele at the Detroit Assembly, the Clark Street Cadillac plant.
There have been lean times in the 30 years since Detroit Assembly closed. (If you want to see its equipment in action, stop by the Detroit Historical Museum to watch a two-story body drop.) Hygrade enjoyed the Michigan film incentives and has benefitted from local media exposure, except when Channel 4 preempted Litt’s deli demo for the President’s press conference announcing his plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay — thanks, Obama.
Instead of suffering through Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to see Hygrade dolled up as Ralli’s Diner (with waitress Diane Lane), you’re better off spending that time and money with the diverse crowd and loyal staff on a Reuben that will make your heart skip a beat. And then start beating regularly again.
To honor Hygrade and the majestic, endangered species of Deli Men, Repair the World is partnering with the Lenore Marwil Jewish Film Festival to screen the documentary Deli Man (“More than 160 years of tradition served up by the Jewish deli owners … Just don’t tell your cardiologist.”) with Stuart at Hygrade Deli, 3640 Michigan Ave., on Thursday, May 12, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets — available at werepair.org/detroit — include Reubens, pickles and Dr. Brown’s.
Max Feber, Bruw Boy
Max is unlike Betty Crocker in two important ways (think Pinocchio at the end of Pinocchio). He also has a couple things in common with her. Betty was the paradigmatic (albeit imaginary) woman of her era; Max, a junior at Frankel Jewish Academy and PeerCorps mentor, captures many of the things we cherish in our young people today. Creative, compassionate, entrepreneurial and just mischievous enough to prove he’s a real boy. And just like Betty, Max asks only for a little space in your kitchen to offer you a lot. Specifically, a cooler way to brew.
Max got into coffee on Tamarack’s Western Trip and came home with dreams of becoming a coffee snob, initially by googling “how to become a coffee snob.” Then, like all good inventors, he courted disaster. Max failed forward from roasting (popcorn air popper, heat gun, Kitchenaid mixer) into cold-brew coffee, starting with a paper-towel-lined colander and encouragement from Mother Feber: “Such a mess, you’re never doing this again.”
When his professor in New Business Ventures, a dual-enrollment course at Lawrence Tech, assigned the class to create a product, Max returned to cold brew and an idea: two mason jars with a filter in between. He started with a piece of screen door attached with a hot glue gun. Nothing happened. When he added a straw to let the air through, the coffee came streaming down and BRUW was born.
I like Max and I like coffee. So when we launched a Kickstarter campaign to prototype and produce BRUW — now “an innovative double-sided lid with a filter insert molded into the center” — I was excited to invest. When my BRUW Box arrived, I reflexively looked for a video to show bruwing for dummies. There was no video, so I suggested he make a video and now I’m in the video — really just for my kind eyes and winning smile. Maybe that makes me Betty Crocker.
You, too, can brew with BRUW …7 it’s true! Get the full set at bruw.net. Delivery included? You bet.