How Zingerman’s managed its way through the pandemic

Though it started as a local deli, mail orders now make up about 45% of the business, according to author Micheline Maynard.

Zingerman co-founders Paul Saginaw (left) and Ari Weinzweig (right).

This month, Michigan restaurants sound the release of COVID-19 relief funds by the American Rescue Plan Act after a report indicated that $180 million in aid remained undispersed. These funds were part of widespread efforts to support an industry that was hit especially hard by the pandemic. States like Michigan issued stay home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The day Michigan issued its first stay home order happened to be the same day author Micheline Maynard sat down with Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, founders of the popular Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor. Because of this unique timing, Maynard was able to share how the 40-year-old deli managed its way through the pandemic.

“Over the next weeks and months, [Zingerman’s] really turned on the jets in order to save the individual businesses.” — author Micheline Maynard

Listen: How one Michigan restaurant was able to survive the pandemic



Micheline Maynard is a contributing columnist for The Washington Post and author of “Satisfaction Guaranteed: How Zingerman’s Built a Corner Deli into a Global Food Community.” She says she had a front row seat observing how the deli was able to get through the pandemic. “Over the next weeks and months, [Zingerman’s] really turned on the jets in order to save the individual businesses,” says Maynard. “One thing that they found out was that they had some very strong businesses, like mail-order. It was exceptionally strong, and I would argue that mail-order saved them during the pandemic.”


Photo courtesy of Arcadia Publishing.

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