It’s a trying time for Katz’s Deli, as rising beef prices drastically reduce profit margins on its famed, three-quarter-pound pastrami sandwich, despite its seemingly-absurd price of $19.75.

Slate explores how the legendary NYC deli has managed to stay in business with the odds stacked against it. In short: it thrives because of tradition. Writer Jordan Weissman describes Katz’s cultural significance, apart from the famed I’ll-have-what-she’s-having scene in When Harry Met Sally,

“It is the ur-deli, a place that, for a certain kind of American Jew, might trump the Western Wall in the hierarchy of Hebraic cultural heritage sites.”

Photo: Facebook

Katz’s “last-of-its-kind” appeal can’t be ignored. With a classic menu featuring pastrami, latkes, coleslaw, and “bocce-sized” Matzo balls, Katz’s old-school fare simply can’t be replaced with the newer artisanal Jewish delis on the scene.

Even Noah Bernamoff, owner of Mile End Deli in Brooklyn and Mile End Sandwich in NoHo, seems to agree. Bernamoff says,

“Katz’s is super-special. It’s the only thing of its kind in the entire world.”

Real estate also seems to play a significant role in Katz’s staying power—Katz’s owns its Lower East Side building. Jake Dell says, “We’re here, and that’s it, and we’re here to stay.”

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