The idea for Frank’s Deli was born during a trip to New York in 2019, when co-owners Sammy Jakubiak and her partner Ben Kelly found inspiration in the city’s many family-owned and run delis – think institutions such as Russ & Daughters, Katz’s and Frankel’s. Together with Sammy’s brother Alek, the trio have leaned into the concept of sharing family traditions with the public: it’s named after Kelly’s grandfather and is anchored by the Jakubiaks’ Polish heritage.
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.
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 worked 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. Keen-eyed My Kitchen Rules fans may recognise Sammy from her time on the show.
The menu is heavy on sandwiches with sliced cheese, pickles, and thick cuts of meat. The “Breakfast Sammy” has a thick slice of LP’s brisket pastrami folded with egg, cheese and a Polish-style dressing (tomato sauce and mayo with a kick of paprika, cayenne and horseradish) the team calls Frank’s Sauce. You’re also likely to find a humble cheese toastie, elevated by crumbled Maffra cheddar, oozy provolone and pecorino for bite. Unsurprisingly, the Reuben – a New York deli staple – is the occasional hero of the menu.
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.