Sharks play-by-play man Dan Rusanowsky (left) with Augie's founder Lex Gopnik-Lewinski at the SAP Center in San Jose, where Augie's smoke meat is available during games. (Photo/Courtesy Rusanowsky)
Sharks play-by-play man Dan Rusanowsky (left) with Augie's founder Lex Gopnik-Lewinski at the SAP Center in San Jose, where Augie's smoke meat is available during games. (Photo/Courtesy Rusanowsky)

No more Augie’s store, but the meat is still around; Loquat opens in S.F.; etc.

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Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

Depending on how you slice it, there’s both good and bad news for fans of Augie’s Montreal Deli, the Montreal-style smoke meat place that opened in Berkeley in 2018. During the pandemic it moved locations and then closed in May 2021. Supporters were hopeful it would eventually reopen.

The good news is that Augie’s smoke meat is available at retailers including Mollie Stone’s, Berkeley Bowl, and now at the Sadie’s Deli kiosk in San Francisco’s Chase Center. There are also two locations at SAP Center in San Jose, where poutine is sold along with the sandwiches.

The bad news is that Augie’s owner Lex Gopnik-Lewinski recently confirmed that the restaurant is not reopening, due to many of the same difficulties the industry as a whole is facing right now, mainly labor issues and inflation. Berkeleyside first broke the news.

Gopnik-Lewinski said the transition to the current business model was eased by the fact that his product is made by a “copacker,” or a company that makes it according to his specifications and recipe.

Augie's classic Montreal-style smoke meat sandwich (Photo/Courtesy Augie's)
Augie’s classic Montreal-style smoke meat sandwich (Photo/Courtesy Augie’s)

“From a business perspective, we don’t have to provide the labor or equipment, we’re just selling the product, so we can avoid all the struggles the restaurants are going through and get the brand out there,” Gopnik-Lewinski told J.

To the casual observer, smoke meat is similar to pastrami, but Montrealers consider theirs the best (like all pastrami, it was brought there by Romanian Jews).

For customers who want to buy Augie’s at their local stores, Gopnik-Lewinski suggests they request the product by name at the deli counter. “It’s better coming from a customer than from the guy who is trying to sell the stuff,” he said. “It carries a lot more weight.”


The cookbook “Rice Is Life: Recipes and Stories Celebrating the World’s Most Essential Grain” is out this month from Chronicle Books. Authored by Caryl Levine and Ken Lee, the couple behind Lotus Foods, and writer Kristin Donnelly, the book’s 65 recipes use different varieties of rice and rice noodles from cuisines across the globe.

Lee and Levine, whom we interviewed in 2016, founded Richmond-based Lotus Foods in the Bay Area in 1995. The couple is credited with introducing Forbidden Black Rice to the market, as well as Bhutanese Red Rice and other heirloom varieties.


Ever since the San Francisco Chronicle broke the news last month about a new Jewish bakery called Loquat moving into the old 20th Century Café space in the city’s Hayes Valley, we’ve been watching it closely. It will open this Sunday, Oct. 23. With the promise of babka and other Levantine flavors, we hope to have a full report on it soon.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."