News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 9, 2014

Mid-east flavor

12 Points delicatessen offers kosher treats, multi-ethnic menu items

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A hexagram, a Jewish “Shield of David,” is clearly visible on the painted deli window.

If that doesn’t give away that the 12 Points neighborhood has a new kosher bakery and deli, then its name — Oy Vey Bakery & Deli — will.

“I knew by putting that as the name of the place, anybody and everybody would know that is a Jewish delicatessen,” said owner Kat Stair. “It’s like good grief, or oh my, or woe is me.”

Customers gain unique offerings such as “upside down coffee,” challah bread and even baked goods from other countries such as a beignet, a French donut, as well as Saudi Arabian flat bread or an Italian sandwich called “The Don,” named after an elderly friend who provided table clothes for the next door dining area.

A recent menu special was potato and lentil soup or liver salad with or without egg. There also are bagels, pastrami sandwiches, turnovers and cup cakes.

Stair’s favorite bagel is the onion and provolone cheese bagel, as well as a plain rye bagel.

Upside down coffee, Stair said, was a concept German Jewish immigrants introduced in the 1930s. Coffee is put in first and everything, such as milk, is added on top and then made, instead of making coffee and then adding milk.

“We put in expresso, and spices and then pour in Chantilly cream,” a sweetened whipped cream flavored with vanilla, “and let it work its way down through” the coffee, Stair said.

The deli, which opened March 10 at 2170 N. 13th St., provides daily service from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

“There are late supper shifts at Bemis and Sony DADC, so we figured at least they might be able to put an order in and pick it up,” Stair said. The business in the future may expand to delivery, Stair said.

“The hours are long, but at least I am doing this for myself,” Stair said. “I get to see the sun rise. It is my business and we are making some good food and are making some people happy.”

Stair said she came to Terre Haute three years ago to work for Sodexo at Indiana State University. She lives on Eighth Avenue, and decided the neighborhood needed a business. “Everybody keeps saying ‘somebody should, somebody should’ move here and invest in the neighborhood, but nobody is, well, I am,” Stair said. “I honestly believe something has to change down here.”

Stair, the mother of five children, wears a yamaka, a round cloth cap, and is known as Rabbi Stair. She said she became a rabbi through the online JSLI Rabbinical School, based in New York. She observes Jewish tradition and her deli is kosher based.

“Kosher means we don’t mix meat and dairy ever,” she said. “You also don’t put cheese things into a pan that meat in it.”

Dinner ware is Styrofoam, Stair said, which eliminates any need to separate plates that had meat from cheese. “It would be impossible to clear the tables. You have to wash things in sinks that are separate from meat and dairy. It is hard enough to run the kitchen to keep meat separate from dairy,” she said.

“Since we opened, more people are willing to say, ‘hi my name is Joe and my mom was Jewish.’ Or my dad was Jewish but my mom wasn’t or we didn’t practice. Now they want to affiliate with the Jewish culture, get in touch with their Jewish roots...for that, wow, I didn’t know that was the mission being undertook, but that is amazing and that is fun,” she said.

That’s because Stair said she also sees the deli as a chance to witness to others about Judaism.

Stair describes herself as a universalist Jew, “but I am orthodox as a woman can be. There are things I can’t do. I am used to keeping Shabbat (a Jewish day of rest) and used to keeping things for myself, so my crew does really good about getting me out of here, because when it gets to be sundown, I want to be lighting my candles and be at home, so my crew is amazing,” she said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.