clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

River North’s New Modern Jewish Deli Opens Inside a 63-Year-Old Space

Schneider Deli serves egg creams, corned beef hash, and kugel from the former Ohio House Coffee Shop

A plate holds two hot dogs smothered in corned beef hash and drizzled with brown mustard.
Meats on meats.
Tim McCoy/Schneider Deli

Chicago’s 63-year-old Ohio House Motel, a mid-century-style landmark enters a new era with the debut of Schneider Deli.

“There are a million things you can get, even though the menu isn’t crazy like a diner,” chef and owner Jake Schneider says. “A deli case, a soda fountain, a full sandwich menu — eventually, we’re going to have our own swag.”

Schneider, who’s worked at Daisies in Logan Square and Perennial Virant in Lincoln Park, and his team have taken the tiny space on the corner of LaSalle and Ohio, crammed in a noteworthy range of Ashkenazi-style Jewish deli classics, and attuned them to contemporary diners. The deli opened on Thursday, August 3 at 600 N. LaSalle Drive in the heart of River North, near Portillo’s and the former Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonalds.

A plate with a thick corned beef sandwich.
The deli’s meats are cut to order.
Tim McCoy/Schneider Deli
A roasted eggplant sandwich on a toasted bun.
Eggplant sandwich.
Tim McCoy/Schneider Deli

The state of Chicago’s Downtown is complicated. Illinois hotels recently reported all-time highs in occupancy. However, offices are hurting with all-time highs in vacancies. Morning meals were once big business for Downtown restaurants, hence why the coffee shop endured decades as a place for a cheap meal.

Schneider hopes there’s a breakfast crowd to serve and their morning items include corned beef hash, French toast, several eggy breakfast sandwiches, bagels with lox, a chocolate cherry coffee cake, and sweet cinnamon Kiddish cake from Leonard’s Bakery — the legendary North Shore spot backed by Once Upon a Bagel. Leonard’s morphed into a baked goods manufacturer after its Northbrook cafe closed during the pandemic. At midday it’s sandwich time, starring pastrami, brisket, and roast turkey, all cut to order behind the counter. Vegetarian selections include eggplant and pickled mushroom sandwiches; the deli case is also packed with tuna salad, onion dip, latkes, kugel, and more.

Schneider can relate to the financial hardships particular to Jewish delis but says he says the deli can work by balancing dishes made on-site (corned beef, matzo ball soup, and pickles) with baked goods brought in from local bakeries like Once Upon A Bagel. He’s also tweaking the form of “skyscraper” sandwiches, which can cost patrons a bundle, by offering four-ounce, seven-ounce, and 10-ounce portions.

A table filled with plates of deli food.
In addition to Dr. Brown’s, the deli features its own soda fountain.
Schneider Deli/Tim McCoy

“I don’t know if we’re going to find a solution that makes everyone happy, but the nature of this kind of food is that it’s not cheap,” he says. “Our goal is to have a daily deal — you can always come in and get something for $15, some kind of combo where you leave satisfied without spending $25 for lunch.”

The space house housed the Ohio House Coffee Shop for more than five decades until it closed in 2013. Leghorn Chicken and Cafe Tola came and went over the following years, and it sat vacant through the early years of the pandemic. Now Schneider hopes it will be the first of several locations for the deli, which could expand into baking in the future.

Schneider Deli, 600 N. LaSalle Drive, Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Ohio House Motel

600 North LaSalle Drive, , IL 60654 (312) 943-6000 Visit Website

Schneider Deli

600 N. LaSalle Drive, Chicago, IL 60654 Visit Website