Our story? Seriously? Got a minute, ‘cause this might take a while.
Caplansky’s Deli was born from the desire for a great smoked meat sandwich. Simple as that. In the summer of 2007, Zane Caplan, as I was known at the time, had a serious hankering for a Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich. Schwartz’s is a world-famous Montreal deli. If you’ve never been there: go. If you’ve been you’ll understand how the taste stays with you, in many cases, for life. It’s that good.
Anyway, that summer of 2007, I asked a friend returning from Montreal to bring me back a smoked meat sandwich. His failure to do so was the spark that ignited the passion that became Caplansky’s Deli. Left high and dry with my craving I refused to settle for whatever was available at the time and set out to teach myself the ancient craft of curing, spicing, steaming and hand-slicing beef briskets, aka smoked meat, in my backyard in downtown Toronto.
Miraculously, my first attempt was a success. With the support and encouragement of all who tasted it in those early days, I started to think about commercialising my product. An entrepreneur at heart, my instincts told me that I’m not alone in my love of deli and smoked meat. However, I was broke at the time, living paycheck to paycheck managing a restaurant in midtown Toronto. Never one to let such details hold me back, I set my sights on the Monarch Tavern as a potential location.