Legal Trouble

Belden v. Belden, A Tale of Two Delis

The Belden Deli, 2012 edition, 2301 N. Clark.
The Belden Deli, 2012 edition, 2301 N. Clark. Photo: courtesy Blipsman via LTHForum

Long before there wasn’t a Tower Records at Clark and Belden, there was a Tower Records there, and before that, there was a smaller older building housing a Jewel and a restaurant called The Belden Deli. We don’t remember if it was great, but we remember that it was the real deli deal, which was enough for us. And apparently for other people too, since more than one deli has since opened in the space at the bottom of that building, seeking to capitalize on an inchoate ancestral sense that a deli rightfully belongs there. Now a new deli has opened at Clark and Belden, called the Belden Deli. Confusingly, another Belden deli has also opened, in the Loop. And now they’re headed to court to decide who should have the name. How to decide? One is no relation to the original, but it sits at the original location— on Belden. The other is nowhere near Belden— it’s in the Maller’s Building on Wabash— but it is from a family associated with the original Belden Deli. Well… sort of.

In fact, the Wabash Belden owners never had anything to do with this location; they bought a second deli called Belden North in Rogers Park in the early 90s from the owners of the original Belden Deli when the original was torn down. Whatever, say Leon Greenberg and Paul Leff of the actually-on-Belden Belden (they also own Northbrook’s Max’s Deli, which had a branch in the space at one point); the trademark was dormant for close to two decades (Belden North closed in 1998) and they’ve done all the legal stuff to revive it. Which would seem to trump a secondhand family connection in court, but you never know. Funny that there’s so much tsouris over a name you’d have to be an alter kocker to remember much about anyway, but in the meantime, we have our first report from a visit to the Belden on Belden at LTHForum, and poster Blipsman thinks there’s promise if, in the opening days, some service glitches:

Traditional Jewish-style deli counter, with baked goods like coffee cakes, smiley face & black/white cookies, etc. as well as bagel bins, plus the coolers with smoked fish, fish salads, deli meats, deli salads and the like. Looked legit. I asked about the bagels, and they come from North Shore Kosher Bakery, as did a lot of the baked goods. Meats were Vienna and Eisenbergs.

Got myself a corned beef sandwich on rye, a 1/2lb. of corned beef and a couple bagels for my wife to make a sandwich when she got back from the pool and have some extra to sample. When I arrived, there were two people in the dining room (one actual customer, and one employee eating) and three people behind the counter. Two were working the registers and one was manning the sandwich slicer station. It took over 10 min. to get my order, when I was the only customer in the place (other than one woman eating)…

The sandwich itself was pretty decent. Corned beef was pretty lean, but warm and still moist. I ate part of the second bagel, since I didn’t think I’d ever (knowingly) had one from North Shore. Better than Einstein’s but not as good as Kaufmann’s, New York or Once Upon a Bagel… although maybe it had lost some of it crispiness because it was made nearly 12 hours earlier. I’ll reserve final judgement until I get one earlier in the day when they’re still super fresh.

One of the owners responds in the thread and makes it sound like they’re sincere about doing a quality deli job, which is promising. In any case, it’s nice to have a deli back in that neighborhood, which isn’t overly abundant with good places to go for a casual meal. Now if only there was more of a reason to be in that neighborhood… like a record store. [CBS Chicago/LTHForum]

Belden v. Belden, A Tale of Two Delis