Now open: Rye Delicatessen

LOWRY HILL — Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, Rye Delicatessen is now open in the old Auriga space at 1930 Hennepin Ave. S.

Owner David Weinstein, a Lowry Hill resident who used to work as a restaurant lawyer and is making his debut as a restauranteur, characterized Rye as a “deli that uses fresh, organic, sustainable ingredients,” including butter from Hope Creamery and fish from a Lake Superior fishery.

“Bringing the whole foodie approach to a deli and running a scratch kitchen rather than bringing in meats — that’s what we tried to create, and we added a full bar to really make it a neighborhood hangout,” Weinstein added over the opening-day lunch-rush noise.

Although Rye doesn’t serve kosher food, the menu is heavily influenced by the Jewish deli tradition. Highlights include tablouleh ($6), corned beef sandwiches ($12), poutine ($5), omelets ($6), knish pot pie ($12) and braised beef brisket ($15).

The food concept was developed by General Manager Tobie Nidetz, a restaurant consultant who teaches as Kitchen Window and worked with The Sample Room and Ike’s Food and Cocktails, among others.

“A lot of it comes from the Jewish deli tradition, but we have other things on the menu like cheeseburgers that aren’t part of that tradition,” Weinstein said.

With the restaurant and bar packed to the gills on opening day and every other patron seemingly stopping on their way in or out to offer him a congratulatory handshake, Weinstein looked around and said he’s “thrilled to make it to the first day and see the place open, but I knew going in from when I first had the concept that I don’t know how to run a restaurant.”

“I don’t know how people start a restaurant not having done it before without the help of people who have — there are too many moving parts to it,” he added as Nidetz busily coached the kitchen staff from behind the deli counter.

Rye’s bar, which will stay open until 2 a.m. most nights, features roughly a half-dozen local craft taps and the full gamut of liquors and cocktails.  The deli opens for breakfast at 7 a.m.

The old Auriga building has been vacant for almost a half-decade. During a conversation shortly after he purchased the building last summer, Weinstein said “It’s a shame for the neighborhood that the building has been vacant for so long.”

“A good, fun, casual deli is something both the neighborhood and city as a whole could really use,” he added, citing the deli resurgence in New York City as an inspiration for his deli concept.

Rye’s website (ryedeli.com) is still under construction, so for more information, call the delicatessen at 871-1200.

— Reach Aaron Rupar at arupar@mnpubs.com. On Twitter at @atruparJournals.