Here is Part 1 of Danny’s column from Aug. 31, 2001, where he celebrated the 90th birthday of longtime deli man Hy Horenstein.
The JN’s premier columnist, Danny Raskin, has rapidy recovered from rib injuries from a fall, but remains in rehab for leg strengthening. In the meantime, we’ll be offering highlights from Danny’s prior columns until his return.
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Here is Part 1 of Danny’s column from Aug. 31, 2001, where he celebrated the 90th birthday of longtime deli man Hy Horenstein. Sadly, less than three months later, Hy passed away, on Nov. 23, 2001.
Turning 90 recently is no big deal to Hy Horenstein.
“I can still hand-cut a Jewish rye bread in record time, and corned beef or pastrami without cutting off any fingers,” says the former premier delicatessen owner.
Hy is the only surviving member of the deli Horenstein brothers, whose name is well noted … Lou and Sam had Brother’s Deli on Dexter, with Max working for them before going on his own and opening Max’s Deli with wife, Belle, on Southfield and 13 Mile.
Hy never joined his brothers at their delicatessens … preferring to be on his own as Hy Horenstein Delicatessen-Restaurant.
“You can’t go to a delicatessen anymore and smell the corned beef because it isn’t cooked in front anymore like years ago,” says Hy, as he bemoans the days gone by.
Hy was only 11 years old when starting out in the deli game … On Hastings and Farnsworth he was a busboy and dishwasher at the original Boesky’s for owner Sam Boesky … also helping to cut corned beef in the basement … Hy was born on Delancey Street in New York, where Sonny Eliot’s father owned a hardware store, and came here when a year old, living on Hastings and Alfred.
Detroit was usually a single-storefront deli town, recalls Hy … “They were small but compact,” he says. Hy’s counter experience, however, sometimes had him at larger ones like when working for Bill Boesky and Joe Friedman at the Brass Rail on Michigan Avenue, next to Kinsel’s and with Al Mendelson at Boesky’s on 12th and Hazelwood, before Al went to California years back to open Nate & Al’s in Beverly Hills.
Hy had come to work at Boesky’s on 12th and Hazelwood as a busboy … and five years later was a counterman for the same Sam Boesky who started him in the deli business on Hastings … as a dishwasher and busboy. “I’m still as ornery as ever,” laughs Hy, who says he has mellowed from the days he was a delicatessen owner and used to close two times a year … “When I took a vacation, everybody had to take a vacation, too.”
His first delicatessen, called Hy Horenstein’s, was on Farmer and Monroe in Detroit … Then came Second Boulevard between Willis and Canfield … and on to Six Mile and Santa Barbara in 1942 … followed by Dexter and Boston Boulevard with partner Mike Selik … After they moved across the street, it was on to Livernois and Seven Mile for Hy.
Read about Hy Horenstein’s big move to Oak Park in 1963 in next week’s column.