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Corned Beef Fest brings in Irish holiday

March 8, 2012
Special to the Town Crier

Jack Kravitz, president of Kravitz Delicatessen, Inc. pledges to keep the deli tradition alive while it celebrates its busiest time of the year -- St. Patrick's Day and Corned Beef Fest. This year, the event has been renamed the Rose Kravitz Memorial Corned Beef Fest in honor of the deli founder and will be held Thursday, March 15 through St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Kravitz has pledged to sell a record 8,000 pounds of its signature corned beef during the week of St. Patrick's Day.

Rose Kravitz founded the deli in 1939 as a way to get out of the Great Depression. The original deli was located at Elm and Thornton on Youngstown's Northside. It was called the Elm Street Delicatessen. After moving to Elm and Tod lane in 1947, Kravitz Delicatessen has become a fixture of the Northside and Liberty since 1970. Rose Kravitz worked the deli almost every day until her death in August 2011. Her son, Jack Kravitz, now runs the business.

The story of how the Jewish deli became the St Patrick's place to be is a story as big as the heart of Rose Kravitz. When Jack first proposed the idea of a St. Patrick's celebration, Rose wanted nothing to do with it.

"I'm not Irish!" Jack said Rose told him. After a lot of pushing, Rose agreed and the public loved it. As Jack says, "Mom thought people must just love corned beef, but I believe it had something to do with how mom loved her customers."

This year's celebrations will take place at both Kravitz Delicatessen locations on Belmont Avenue in Liberty and inside the Poland Library.

"Many people think that there is corn in corned beef", but, according to Jack Kravitz, "corned is an old word for pickling, and we have pickled beef brisket." Using a brisket cut is what makes the Kravitz corned beef different from the others.

"A lot of people use inferior cuts and try to pickle it. That is because a brisket takes expertise to cook and cut. Employees have to be here for months before they are allowed to cut the corned beef. That is why we sell more corned beef than everywhere else combined," Jack Kravitz said.

The 2012 Corned Beef Fest is offering expanded entertainment including, in Liberty,

a kick-off party with Brady's Leap, the Valley's modern Celtic Band, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday traditional Irish foods; on Friday, County Mayo will play from 6 to 9 p.m. during a Lenten fish fry; and on Saturday, The Erie Festival Band plays from 2 to 6 p.m. and Guilty Pleasures plays from 6 to 9 p.m. At the Poland location, Friday's Lenten Fish Fry features the Erie Festival band from 5:30 to 9 p.m.; Saturday will be a 1 p.m. book reading with the Giant Leprechauns with music by Brady's Leap from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

A St. Patrick's Kid's Fest in Poland will lead up to Corned Beef Fest. On Saturday, March 10 the Poland Library location hosts a family day and kids can get free shamrock cookies, meet the Giant Leprechaun and his wife, draw a leprechaun on butcher paper, and listen to stories read by the leprechauns. Mom and dad can enjoy sandwich specials. The Giant Corned Beef contest returns so the kids can challenge dad to see if he can finish the giant corned beef sandwich and win a free t-shirt.

From Monday, March 12 through Wednesday, March 14, customers can get an early sampling of corned beef at reduced prices.

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