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Scozio's scaling back its kosher deli

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

By Aviva N. Selekman, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

After only three months of business, Scozio's is altering its kosher deli because sales didn't match what management had projected. "It's basic economics," manager Vince Hammer said. "We were spending more on labor than we were getting in sales. And some of the product was going bad. It just wasn't what we'd anticipated."

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Hammer said Scozio's still plans to sell other kosher products, including prepackaged lunch meat and chicken, some salads, frozen food and the products it's been stocking for years for the holidays.

"John Scozio did a tremendous thing for our community," said Rabbi Mendel Rosenblum, director of Chabad of the South Hills and the person who originally pushed for the kosher deli. "But he has business considerations. I think if it would have been given more than three months and more advertising, [the deli] would have made money."

Rosenblum is trying to find another location for a kosher deli in the area.

"I am trying to make the South Hills as Jewishly self-sufficient as possible, especially for when the tunnels close" and it will be harder to get to Squirrel Hill to buy kosher products, he said.

Michael Syme, president of Beth El, said many of that synagogue's congregants used the kosher deli, were excited when it opened and are disappointed about the changes.

"A lot of people drive to Squirrel Hill or have kosher food delivered from other places," he said. "The demand is there. If marketed properly, the South Hills can support a kosher deli."

Syme said Scozio's and Giant Eagle wouldn't be carrying the kosher packaged food they carry if the community didn't support it.

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