You can tell you’ve arrived at Frank’s Deli not by the soon-to-be-iconic purple-and-gold lettering out front, but by the line of masked customers that snakes up Waverley’s Bronte Road.
“We’ve been 10 times busier than what we ever expected,” Sammy Jakubiak, who opened Frank’s Deli with her brother Alek Jakubiak and her fiance Ben Kelly four weeks ago, tells Broadsheet. “It’s been wild.”
The trio each have their own area of expertise. Alek is a coffee aficionado who cut his teeth at Rozelle’s Little Marionette (and is using its beans at Frank’s). Kelly works for Fino Foods, importing many of the specialty goods – Olasagasti anchovies, Benino dill pickles, Piperrak guindillas – that are used in the kitchen and sold in-house. And keen-eyed My Kitchen Rules fans will recognise Sammy from her time on the show a decade ago.
“Manu (Feildel) came in the other day and told me he was so proud of me,” Sammy says. “MKR was the beginning for me, 10 years ago, and I feel so thankful that I had that start.”
The idea for Frank’s Deli was born during a trip to New York in 2019, when Sammy and Kelly found inspiration in the city’s many family-owned and run delis – think institutions such as Russ & Daughters, Katz’s and Frankel’s. The concept of sharing family traditions with the public is the bedrock of Frank’s Deli: it’s named after Kelly’s grandfather and is anchored by the Jakubiaks’ Polish heritage.
“Those New York institutions that have family traditions at the heart of it all – that is something we wanted to adopt,” Sammy says. “In our family, my dad makes his own hot-smoked salmon. My stepmum cures it and then he does the smoking. We got him to come in and hot-smoke the salmon that we serve on our ploughman’s plate and stock in the fridge.”
The menu is heavy on sandwiches with sliced cheese, pickles, and thick cuts of meat. The Breakfast Sammy is one of the dishes Broadsheet will be braving the queues to try again (don’t worry, the line moves quickly). It has a thick slice of LP’s brisket pastrami folded with egg, cheese and a Polish-style dressing the team calls Frank’s Sauce. Paired with a cup of expertly made coffee, it’s a breakfast combo that’s hard to stop thinking about.
“The sauce is my homage to a Polish dressing,” Sammy says. “It’s got the standard mayo and tomato sauce but I put in paprika, cayenne and horseradish. I don’t want to give away all my secrets but there’s also dill, onion and a Polish fermented pickle that I blitz and put through it.”
The humble cheese toastie is elevated by crumbled Maffra cheddar, oozy provolone and pecorino for bite. House-made focaccia is proving popular and, given the inspiration for the deli, it's unsurprising that the New York staple, the Reuben is the current hero of the menu. “We are also doing a version using speck from Narel Smallgoods that is becoming even more popular,” Sammy says.
The partners gave interior designer Michael Allsopp a few photos for guidance, and he brought the space to life. The building, which was a butcher shop when it was first built, had old diamond-shaped tiles that the team built around. Graphic designer James Fitzgerald took the colour from the design and used it in the purple and gold signage. The result is classic 1950s deli.
An abundance of products – pickles, anchovies, Olsson’s salt, Maya Sunny honey, house-made giardiniera and Frank’s extra-virgin olive oil – jostle for space in the window and on the shelving on the exposed brick walls. The fridge is also teeming with products to take home, including the family’s classic hot-smoked salmon, Polish vegetable salad and LP’s smallgoods.
“We are taking our family’s traditions and giving them to the public to try,” Sammy says. “We want to serve the classics and create something that can last the test of time.”
Judging by that queue, it’s working.
279 Bronte Road, Waverley
Mon to Fri 6.30am–3pm
Sat and Sun 7.30am–3pm.