Tel-Aviv Kosher deli up for sale in San Francisco

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Alex Keselman likes selling chocolate babkas to children. But he’d rather be prescribing them medicine.

And, when you run a kosher market and delicatessen, that’s a problem.

Keselman, a pediatrician in his native Israel, bought Tel-Aviv Kosher Meats along with his brother, Ron, in 2006. The brothers hoped they’d find someone else to run the day-to-day operations of the delicatessen but, instead, they’ve been the ones slicing the meat, sweeping the floors and replacing the pickle brine.

So, they’ve opted to sell the market founded by Mikhail Treistman in San Francisco’s Sunset District nearly 30 years ago. Keselman said he hoped the store’s next owner will keep it kosher as he and his brother did, but he’s fielding all offers.

“I can sell to everybody, we live in America,” said Sergey Sharapoff, the broker handling the sale.

“They can keep it kosher or not kosher. I prefer somebody who will keep it kosher. There’s not a lot of businesses like this.”

Treistman, a Holocaust survivor and fourth-generation butcher from Odessa, greeted customers for more than 20 years. Following a strong-arm robbery in 2003, he suffered serious head wounds, spent four weeks in a coma and awoke in a delusional state.

Though he made a nearly full recovery, he found it difficult to tabulate figures in his head — and running a market on one’s own is a challenge for anyone, let alone a septuagenarian. He sold the store to the Israeli brothers a year and a half ago.

The Keselmans, who hail from Ashdod (near Tel Aviv, fittingly enough) put the store on the market at around Passover. They claim the business is still quite profitable, but running a market turned out to not be their cup of tea. (Ron Keselman has a degree in advanced finance from City University of New York; like his brother, he hadn’t anticipated being the counterman this long).

Sharapoff said he’s already received some offers and he hopes to make a sale within the next month or so.

“It’s a very good store, very good-looking. We need this kind of store in the area,” said Alex Keselman, who hopes to receive his American Medical License within the next three years.

“On the other side, I’m losing my time. I’m supposed to do something else. I’ve studied for more than 10 years.”

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.