Multimillion-dollar deal-making wasn’t Doron Friedman’s calling--corned beef was. Bagels, chopped liver and smoked sturgeon, too.
Friedman, 29, a graduate of the esteemed Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, wanted to own a delicatessen.
So the heck with three college degrees and an investment banking career. Enter Jonah’s Deli & Bagel Cafe.
Located on upper State Street in Santa Barbara, Friedman’s recently opened eatery is a welcome addition to an otherwise dearth of New York-style deli fare in the area.
Although Jonah’s is not kosher, it does strive to fulfill the demands of the staunchest of deli connoisseurs.
The corned beef and pastrami are flown in from Chicago. And the fish--smoked sturgeon, smoked whitefish, herring, Nova lox, smoked Atlantic lox and whitefish salad--are flown in overnight from a smokehouse in Brooklyn.
A bit of “Old World” tradition is practiced at the smallish deli.
“My mom is old Euro-Hungarian,” Friedman said. “She gave us the recipes that we use to make our chopped liver and matzo ball soup.”
The discerning deli-goer will note that Jonah’s never pre-slices its corned beef and pastrami, which are kept in a steamer to retain freshness.
The meats are stacked high, as you would expect from an honest-to-goodness deli sandwich. And with the light nosher in mind, sandwiches can be ordered by the half.
Also listed on the wall-hung, chalkboard menus are fish sandwiches, hot melts, beef hot dogs, knishes, cold bagel sandwiches and pizza bagels. There are also breakfast items in the form of bagels with scrambled eggs.
Missing are full meal entrees.
“We’re kind of a semi-deli,” Friedman said. “We don’t have waiters and waitresses.”
More on the bagels: Jonah’s makes 23 different versions on-site each morning--and these are the real deal.
“We boil our bagels and bake them in an open-flame oven,” Friedman said.
Friedman knows bagels. He also is proprietor of the Bagel Cafe in Isla Vista, which he started in 1991, and another in San Luis Obispo that opened in 1995.
Jonah’s Deli & Bagel Cafe is at 3534 State St. Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Call 898-0021.
At the Whale’s Tail Restaurant in Oxnard, it’s out with the new and in with the old. After the recent departure of his head chef, owner Michael Koutnik has decided to take the kitchen’s helm at the harbor-side seafood restaurant.
“It’s where my roots are,” said Koutnik, who opened his first restaurant--Jason’s, a steakhouse in Burbank--in 1969.
The decision to return to kitchen duty was part passion, part business.
“There was a need for me to get back in there and make sure all the controls were in place and institute some new programs,” he said.
Koutnik’s active participation will also provide quality time with his management team and a chance to work side-by-side with his staff of 10 cooks.
“I’m going to stay hands-on now for a long period of time, but this will allow me to promote my cooks from within,” he said.
Menu-wise, patrons should not expect big changes: “I am by nature and background a gourmand, not a gourmet,” he said. “You’ve heard of meat and potatoes? I’m a fish and potatoes person.”
Koutnik will concentrate on quality control and overseeing evolution of the restaurant’s seafood fare.
“This restaurant has been open for 30 years--that is both good news and bad news,” he said. “When a restaurant opens, it is bright and shiny and everybody wants to go there.
“But how do you keep it bright and shiny? You have to keep re-creating your menu and interior design.”
To that end, Koutnik said he makes a point of “getting out in the marketplace to see what others are doing.” For instance, Seattle.
“With the preponderance of fresh seafood, they have really developed in the last five years the cutting edge as it relates to seafood.”
Two dishes featured at the Whale’s Tail were Seattle-inspired, Koutnik said: Pacific Northwest Seafood Stew and Seattle Crab Louis.
Rodney Bosch writes about the restaurant scene in Ventura County and outlying points. He can be reached by telephone at 653-7572, fax at 653-7576 or e-mail at email@example.com
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