Appetizers

A second high-profile deli set to open in downtown Sacramento

South owners N’Gina Kavookjian (left) and Ian Kavookjian plan to open a new deli in the Southside Park neighborhood.
South owners N’Gina Kavookjian (left) and Ian Kavookjian plan to open a new deli in the Southside Park neighborhood. Bee staff

Another high-profile delicatessen is being planned for downtown Sacramento – this one from the owners of South, the popular Southern-food restaurant on 11th Street.

N’Gina Kavookjian, who co-owns South with her husband, Ian Kavookjian, said construction will start March 15 on a new deli at Sixth and S streets.

The deli, which will be called the Proletariat, will sit below the couple’s residence.

“Hopefully it will be done in early summer,” N’Gina Kavookjian said. “It is an homage to my Polish-Jewish husband, and his New Jersey ways.”

The Proletariat will be a “light take” on the East Coast Jewish deli, N’Gina Kavookjian said. “It is going to have the soul of a Jewish deli, without being so stringent that we have to do this or (that).”

“Ian’s biggest thing that he hates about sandwiches in California is they have 45 ingredients,” she added. Sandwiches at the Proletariat will be more in the East Coast style, which emphasizes “really good bread and really good meat” without all the flourishes, she said. “There might be four ingredients, but the quality of those four ingredients is spectacular.”

The Kavookjians’ deli already was in the works before the recent announcement that a Jewish deli named Solomon’s – after Tower Records founder Russ Solomon – will move in late 2017 into the old Tower space on K Street near Golden 1 Center.

“We saw that (announcement), and we were like, ‘All right,’” Kavookjian said with a laugh. “Like I say all the time: We are not trying to compete with anybody. The only people we compete with is ourselves.”

Last month, the Kavookjians opened a vintage shop called the Quinn on T Street, just around the corner from South.

Kavookjian said she and her husband have decided to invest money earned from South – a success since it opened two years ago – back into the Southside Park neighborhood.

South might get even more business soon, when its anticipated full liquor license comes through.

“Fingers crossed, we will get our license right before Mardi Gras” in February, Kavookjian said. The couple then will transfer South’s current beer and wine license to the Quinn, where people can sip a beer while browsing 1980s fashions and mid-century glassware.

The food, warm atmosphere and unusual location at South combine for an experience that feels original. Photos by Paul Kitagaki Jr.

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