Great news! Wendi Rosenstein, Morrie Berenberg’s eldest grandchild, has finished her Lincoln Del Cookbook! The book will be launched on September 10 at the Minnetonka Blvd. site, now Edina Realty.
HISTORY OF THE DEL
It all started with Frank Berenberg, who came to America from Romania in 1897. The story goes that he was so enamored of the freedom of America, and of Abraham Lincoln in particular, that he named his first son Abraham and his business Lincoln.
After working with the Malinsky family to start the Northside (Minneapolis) Bakery in 1930, Frank opened the first Lincoln bakery on Lyndale Ave. in 1933.
On Saturday, April 27, 1935, Frank opened the Lincoln Bakery at 1405 Sixth Ave. North in Minneapolis. It was at about that time that he brought his children into the business:
In 1946 Frank sold the Lincoln Bakery to his sons.
As of 1951 there were two locations. Below is an ad from the Minneapolis Spokesman, the city’s black newspaper, from June 8, 1951:
- The store at 1409 Olson Memorial Highway was a “cold shop” where baked goods were sold but not made. That location was displaced in 1957 when Olson Memorial Highway/6th Ave. North became Highway 55.
- The store at 2003 Plymouth Ave. was a wholesale bakery that supplied bread to Twin Cities businesses
- Cold shops were also located at Snyder Drug Stores
- Bakery goods could also be purchased at the Great Northern Market at Eighth and Hennepin in Minneapolis.
LINCOLN DEL EAST
The first Lincoln Del location (later known as Lincoln Del East) was at 4100 W. Lake Street (Minnetonka Blvd.). It opened 1957 and was originally planned to be a bakery.
The restaurant was run by Frank’s son Morrie and his wife Tess. Morrie died in 1994, and Tess in 2011.
LINCOLN DEL WEST
The second location, also in St. Louis Park, was at the southwest corner of the intersection of Highways 100 and 12 (5201 Wayzata Blvd.). It opened in September 1965. The architect was Ed Baker. Morris Berenberg held the liquor license. The building was enlarged in 1966. The original manager was Jack Zelkin, Morrie’s son-in-law. The building was owned by Baker Properties, but was then sold to MEPC Properties, which owned a lot of land in that area of St. Louis Park. In 1986 a parking problem grew between the Del and other lessees of MEPC properties, and was only solved after Danny Berenberg mailed 25,000 bagels to MEPC at their national headquarters in Dallas. After a standoff that embarrassed MEPC officials in the press, the two parties came to a compromise.
Sketch in an ad for a different building
The Wayzata Blvd. store apparently got its liquor license in July 1967; the ad below appeared in the Minneapolis Tribune.
The building was taken in about 1994 when the Highway 100/Highway 394 interchange was expanded.
In 1936, bakers went on strike for the right to join Baker’s Union Local 222. Berenberg family members had to get into the bakery inside their truck to avoid strikers.
In the spring of 1968 bakers struck, and Danny Berenberg, who had just received his law degree, rushed to the store to replace striking bakers.
In October 1970 workers picketed the Wayzata Blvd. store protesting the firing of two cooks who reportedly were fired because of union activities. Owner Morris Berenberg denied the accusation, even though the two had recently joined the otherwise non-union shop. At the same time, the Lincoln Del was slapped with a sex-discrimination complaint brought by the State Human Rights Commission on behalf of Mrs. Nancy Juhl. Mrs. Juhl claimed she was being paid less than men in the same job, and that she was fired in retaliation when she filed her claim.
The third location was the Lincoln Del South, at 4401 W. 80th Street in Bloomington, near the intersection of Highway 494 and France Ave. It opened in 1975 and closed in 2000.
By the 1980s, the day-to-day business was being handled by Morrie’s son Danny. An article from 1983 reported that the three restaurants employed nearly 450 people, with about 250 of them living in St. Louis park.
What people remember the most about the Lincoln Del was the food – perfect for the Jewish community that had settled into St. Louis Park, but enjoyed by just about everyone for miles around. In a city where there were several delis to choose from, the Lincoln Del was at the top.
A couple of vintage menus reveal some interesting items – and a sense of humor. Items include:
- Jewish Hogie (For Fressers Only)
- Minnesota Twins – Two char-broiled miniature hamburgers (early sliders)
- Triple Tootsie – Three separate tasty sandwiches on delicious French rolls, chopped liver, corned beef and pastrami, French fries
- Scandinavian Treat Platter – freshly opened tin of finest oil-packed King Oscar sardines, potato salad, Bermuda onion,
- Peanut butter and bacon sandwich (.80)
- Chocolate phosphate made with fresh cream
- Lincoln (shrimp) and Washington (chicken salad) Salads
- Pump Twins – Two Over-stuffed corned beef on two Pumpernickle rolls
- Fried corned beef hash
- Diet Suggestion: two large hamburger patties, Melba toast, cottage cheese or jello
- Country Club Sandwiches:Club House (turkey)Meadowbrook (chicken salad)Lincoln (corned beef and chopped chicken liver)Rolling Green (grilled albacore tuna)Oak Ridge (chopped chicken liver)Golden Valley (roast beef)Brookview (corned beef)
Interesting note at the top of the menu: “At the price we have to charge to serve LOX, we suggest you make a different choice from our menu.”
One particular goody people may remember was the The C. Everett Koop cake. A blogger describes it: “[The cake] was a towering monstrosity of chocolate layer cake and whipped cream and cherries and chocolate shavings. It was displayed, tantalizingly, right alongside the roped-off line to get to the hostess’s station, bedecked with a faux “Surgeon General’s Warning” as to its bad health effects. Those were the days when Koop was everywhere letting everyone in on the secret evils of smoking, and it made the cake seem even more decadent and forbidden and hilarious.”
END OF THE DEL
The Lincoln Del story ends when grandson Danny Berenberg decided to sell his 6.8 acre tract on the Bloomington strip to Walser Automotive for $6.4 million. Since the Bloomington store was also supporting the Park store and the Park location was too antiquated to run by itself, both had to go. The St. Louis Park store was closed in June 2000 and a liquidation sale started on July 17. Berenberg retained the rights to the name and all the recipes. Many of the recipes came with family members who immigrated from Russia and Romania, Berenberg said in a Dispatch article. At the time of closing, the borscht chefs moved to Zaroff’s Deli in Minnetonka, which has now closed.
The liquidation brochure included photos of some of the equipment as it was sold to the Del many years ago.
The Lincoln Del Cookbook: Best-Loved Recipes from the Legendary Bakery and Deli. Wendi Zelkin Rosenstein and Kit Naylor, 2017, Minnesota Historical Society Press
“Book Offers a Taste of the Lincoln Del, a Past Favorite in St. Louis Park and Bloomington,” by Seth Rowe, St. Louis Park Sun Sailor, September 7, 2017
“Believe it or not, There’s a “Tie” Between Abe Lincoln and Lincoln Del,” by Elizabeth Redmond, St. Louis Park Sailor, January 24, 1983.