Mt. Airy’s newest Jewish deli, formerly called Cooperman’s, has shut its doors months after opening. Its owner maintains that the closure is temporary, while he retools its menu and interior.
Graaf is no stranger to the vicissitudes of the restaurant business. His popular Falls Taproom in East Falls closed in 2017 after it ran out its lease, and his Nonna’s Pizza Tavern moved from Germantown to Mt. Airy earlier this year.
After the October departure of Cooperman’s chef Lor Kats, who was with the restaurant when it opened in May, owner Marvin Graaf said he took the opportunity to consider feedback from diners who’d patronized the Germantown Avenue location.
“We’ve listened to what people had to say and we’re making changes,” said Graaf, who is changing the restaurant’s name to Pop-Pop’s in honor of his grandfather.
There were two complaints in particular at Cooperman’s that drove Graaf to do further research. One was about the bagels, which were not boiled. Now Pop-Pop’s will get its bagels from the local bakery Fill A Bagel & Breads, headquartered in Jenkintown.
The other complaint was that the deli sandwiches were not big enough and were too expensive. So Marvin and his wife, Jess, did some research and even measured sandwiches at other delis.
“We were selling a 7-ounce sandwich for $9.75,” he said. “Hymie’s was selling a 10-ounce sandwich for $12.95. People want it to be cheap, but they want a mound of meat.”
To solve this problem, Pop-Pop’s is expected to offer a full 10-ounce sandwich as well as a half-sandwich option, which will cost less.
“We wanted to be able to offer people what they want and still maintain being a profitable business,” said Graaf. “The baseline sandwich is huge, but there’s an option for something smaller for people who don’t want that gluttonous experience.”
Other changes to the menu will be mostly add-ons, including vegetarian and gluten-free options, fresh foods like salads and cut-up fruit and a pickle bar, which Graaf found at most Jewish delis he visited. They’ll be keeping the popular options like the custom cream cheese bar, which patrons loved, and the matzah ball soup, he said.
Graaf will also respond to some negative feedback he got about the restaurant’s seating options, which consisted of wooden chairs previously. Instead, there will be booths, he said.
The idea, said Graaf, is to broaden the options at the restaurant and serve more people. The restaurant will have earlier hours as well.
“We were very gung-ho about getting those [Jewish deli] things down, but we decided that it wasn’t enough to create a wide enough audience to be successful,” he said. “So we’ve been rethinking, revamping.”
The new incarnation of the restaurant, which, like Cooperman’s, will not be kosher, should open in a couple weeks.
Graaf’s other Germantown Avenue restaurants include the Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange and Nonna’s Pizza Tavern.
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Dec. 11, 2018: This article has been updated to correct Graaf’s restaurant ownership information.