2017 is turning out to be a year of celebration and change for the beloved Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Last month, the popular deli celebrated its 35th anniversary. Founded by Ari Weinzweig—who applied for his first restaurant position “not because he had any interest in food or business, but because [he] needed a job”—met future partners Paul Saginaw, Frank Carollo, and Maggie Bayless. Weinzweig and Saginaw ultimately came up with the idea for Zingerman’s Delicatessen, which opened its doors on March 15, 1982. Since then, this Ann Arbor fixture has expanded to a community of more than 10 unique businesses, including a bakery, Korean and BBQ restaurants, and a wholesale coffee roaster. After die-hard Zingerman’s fans started moving to faraway corners of the country, they would regularly call to try to have their favorite meals sent to them. The demand ultimately led to a flourishing mail-order business.
One of those businesses is the Creamery. Opened in 2001, it’s the deli’s source for dairy delicacies. Closed for reconstruction since July 2016, the brand new Cream Top Shop will open its doors to hungry cheese-lovers on Saturday, April 29. It will continue to sell cheese and gelato from Zingerman’s Creamery, and will expand to feature simple sandwiches that showcase cheese, as well as “munchables,” which customers can customize with a variety of cheese, nuts, pickles, vegetables, olives, and sliced meat. There will also be expanded gelato offerings to include shakes, malts, and gelato sandwiches. Classes on cheese, cheese styles, and pairings will continue to be offered, now in a brand new public tasting space.
The Creamery makes 20 cheeses, including staple varieties that undergo unique affinage methods, such as being wrapped in cabbage (Manistique), washed in beer (Washtenaw), or aged in a terracotta crock (Pere Marquette). According to Creamery manager Aubrey Thomason, “Each process enhances the flavors in the cheese.” Although these unique selections are hits, Thomason lists the most popular cheeses as some of the classics: the Manchester, Detroit Street Brick, and Lincoln Log are the Creamery’s top sellers.
A self-proclaimed introvert, Weinzweig often prefers little daily celebrations to a big birthday blowout. Whether that’s “an amazing staff service interaction, a really delicious bite of a Zing Bar, or how great the cream cheese is that the creamery makes by hand,” small celebrations aren’t hard to come by when you’re surrounded by so much delicious food (or when you find the the spring sales online!).
When asked what cake Weinzweig would choose for the 35th celebration, rather than chocolate or buttercream, he spoke about its recipients, explaining, “It would be big enough to give a piece to everyone who has contributed here over the years. It would have to be as big as Michigan Stadium probably.”