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Nate’s Deli sign on view in “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli exhibition

Through April 14, 2024, Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie, IL 60077

A sign from the former Nate’s Deli in the collection of the Maxwell Street Foundation is on loan to this temporary exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. Nate Duncan worked at Lyon’s Delicatessen on Maxwell Street in Chicago for over 25 years when he bought it from Ben Lyon in 1973. For over 20 years he continued to serve kosher food at Nate’s Deli as an African American, in the Lyon’s Jewish tradition. The Maxwell Street Market Master had his “office” at one of the tables. Nate sold his property to the University of Illinois for their south campus redevelopment and his building, at 807 W. Maxwell Street marked by this iconic sign, was demolished in 1995.

More than a place to get a meal, the Jewish deli is a community forged in food. “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli explores how Jewish immigrants, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, imported and adapted traditions to create a uniquely American restaurant. The exhibition reveals how Jewish delicatessens became a cornerstone of American food culture, and how delis served as a lifeline for many Holocaust Survivors and refugees who came to the United States. Get a taste of deli history through neon signs, menus, advertisements, uniforms, photographs, and film and TV clips. Plus, spark and share your own deli memories with fun photo ops and interactives!