Restaurant Royalty Returns To Lakewood
Danny's Deli opened in March with very little fanfare or excitement. It was almost like two ships in the night passing in the middle of nowhere. The Tina sign came down, and Danny's which seemed vaguely familiar went up. I mean, what does another small place to get food matter on the Detroit Avenue Chow Line? Besides, they close at 2 pm! And I never seem to have the time for the little deli at the strip mall.
BOY WAS I BLIND! - Kenneth Warren was in town a couple weeks ago, and told me to meet him at Danny's for corned beef. This is a painful exercise for me, I am a hardcore Slyman's Corned Beef guy. If it is on the Westside, I go to Joe's in Rocky River, though The Place To Be does a nice corned beef. Ken's father was in the restaurant business in New York, and he does have the ability to come up with some good places now and then, but his "corned beef" choices have been seriously mediocre at times.
So I met him at Danny's at 1 p.m., and entered to a nice greeting of some middle aged women welcoming me in, and a nice waitress guiding me over to Ken Warren, at one of the very few tables in this little deli. I looked at the menu, and saw typical deli fare. The waitress asked if I liked pastrami, and I do, but my wife loves it. She suggested a half corned beef and half pastrami reuben, so I said sure. She also brought out a plate of fries for the both of us, a Pepsi for me and a Coke for Ken. For those that frequent delis, you know just how special that is.
I was stunned, it was a real New York/Chicago style Corned Beef as made famous in Cleveland by some of the greatest delis ever, The Rathskeller, Hattons, and SLYMAN's-- the only one still cranking out the legendary sandwiches in the same way that Joe Slyman had made damn near world-famous. To this day, Slyman people only want Slyman's, and I have to admit, it is still one of my favorite places when I am anywhere near it. You know, the mouthwatering, moist, piles of corned beef that seem nearly impossible to get in your mouth, let alone finish. Yet once you taste the corned beef, you just know you will make it through the sandwich and anything else even if it means not having dinner or eating tomorrow. A good corned beef or pastrami sandwich is something to truly enjoy.
As I am looking through the menu, the cook comes out from the back and says, "Hey you! You used to eat at Danny's downtown! You worked for the record company and would come in." I said, "Yeah, I worked at Northern Records, and we did go to a really great little sandwich shop near 38th, but that was 35 years ago?!" "Yeah I used to wait on you, I worked there!" and he walked away. I turned to Ken, amazed. Not only by the cook's memory, but by the memory of these crazy good normal sandwiches that a person would crave now and then. Ham and cheese on rye with mayo and mustard. Egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad. All fabulous. They had corned beef and pastrami, but were so close to Slyman's we all figured they chose to push the rest of their menu. No matter, that was then and he was in Lakewood cooking now! GREAT!
Then the women behind the counter came over to meet us and say hello asking, "How are the sandwiches?" I told her they were great, and that Ken was always trying to show me "great corned beef" and this time he was right on the money. However, "I am a Slyman guy!" I said proudly. She smiled and said, "Yes many people love the corned beef that comes from my brother's store." I said, "Brother?" She assured me that Joe was her brother, she is a Slyman, and a proud graduate of Slyman University where she worked as a teenager until she met her husband and they opened Danny's nearly 40 years ago. They closed Danny's in Cleveland and retired to Florida where they have been for 5 years. They got bored, missed the Cleveland area and at one time lived in Lakewood. So they came back to take over "Tina's" which was originally started by another family member, but it had since gone through many hands, until now it is Danny's! I said, "If you are Joe's sister, then you are also Jeanette's sister!" Jeanette is the owner of Joe's Deli in Rocky River. Many people do not know what a deli-dynasty the family has, and the incredible reputation for being the best wherever they are. She said, "Yes, Jeanette is my younger sister!"
With all of the talk of chains like Quaker Steak and Lube, Menchies, McDonald's, the new kids such as Melt and Deagan's or even classics like Pier W, we have quietly acquired, without any fanfare, a real gem of a restaurant from one of the crown jewels of the entire region. The place is too small and the hours are too short but the meals are too big, and the food too good! So if you get a chance, you have got to stop by Danny's and get one of the finest sandiwches in the city from a family that has been making millions smile with very full bellies for nearly a century.
13411 Detroit Ave
Hours Monday - Friday 7 a.m. - 3 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.