If they wanted to live next door to a sausage factory, they would have stayed on the West Side

After World War II Chicago’s Hollywood Park neighborhood underwent rapid development, attracting many Jewish families from the West Side. You’d think they would have been thrilled that a family-owned business from the old neighborhood wanted to follow them to the North Side, but, no, Hollywood Park didn’t exactly welcome Sol Lazar with open arms.

Lazar wanted to relocate his business, Lazar’s Kosher Sausage Factory–a business he started in 1913 on the 3600 block of Roosevelt Road–to a large plot of land he owned on the east side of Kedzie, south of Bryn Mawr Avenue. In the chambers of Master of Chancery Nathan M. Cohen, the neighbors literally raised a stink about Lazar’s proposed move. I don’t know where the Chancery was located, didn’t even know one existed outside Bleak House. I’m guessing it was at City Hall and that’s where, on March 12, 1957, some 100 Hollywood Park residents showed up with three jars.

The Chicago Tribune covered the story:

“Cries of ‘Phew!’ ‘Put that lid back on!’ and ‘Lemme outta here’ sounded thru the packed room as many persons rushed for the door.”

What happened is the protesters opened jars of so-called pickle juice to demonstrate how badly Hollywood Park would smell if Lazar built his sausage factory on Kedzie. They claimed they had obtained samples of the liquid from a refuse container in back of Lazar’s Roosevelt Road plant.

Lazar denied the samples were by-products of his processing plant. He said he had put a trash bin in the alley for the convenience of the neighbors.

The attorney for the Hollywood Park group, Zeamore A. Adler, argued that in any case smoking and packaging meat would pollute the area. Lazar said his factory would be a neighborhood improvement.

Pickle barrel tactics ultimately failed to convince the Master of the Chancery. On December 22, 1957, the Hollywood North Park Civic Association held an emergency meeting to fight “the movement of the stock yards to the north side.”

They weren’t successful. In 1958 Lazar’s opened his modern and, as I recall,  attractive facility at 5511 N. Kedzie. (Today, Northside College Prep High School is  located on the site.) In hindsight, Lazar may have been right about the impact of his plant on the area.  Although the city originally zoned the east side of Kedzie south of Bryn Mawr for residential development, the small businesses and light manufacturing shops that eventually lined the street contributed to the economic stability of the neighborhood and lowered the population density of an already crowded area.

And the smell? My mother shopped at Lazar’s and I always looked forward to the moment of impact, when we opened the glass doors and walked into a smell of salami so strong I felt it might push us right back outside. It was always busy and noisy and I would wait patiently until our number was called and one of the butchers would hand me a thin slice of salami before taking my mother’s order.

Some of you from the old neighborhood may have known that Sol Lazar and his family lived on the 6100 block of North Springfield, about a mile away from the shop on Kedzie. What you might not have known is Sol’s nephew Leo Stein was a composer and conductor. Leo Stein left his papers as well as a marvelous history of his life, including Lazar family history, to the DePaul University library and it’s available online.

Update! Lazar’s Goes On … in Jerusalem! Thanks to a comment posted below, I learned that Sol Lazar’s daughter owns a butcher shop in Jerusalem.

Sources: ‘PHEW!’ PICKLE PLANT PROTEST PANICS PEOPLE :A Jar of Evidence Jars Zoning. (1957, March 13). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963),p. 12.  Retrieved November 29, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1987). (Document ID: 518119132).  RESIDENTS SET RALLY TO FIGHT SAUSAGE PLANT. (1957, December 22). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963),p. nw7.  Retrieved November 28, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1987). (Document ID: 566072642). DePaul University Special Collections: Autobiography of Leo Stein.

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30 Responses to If they wanted to live next door to a sausage factory, they would have stayed on the West Side

  1. Deb November 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    I could kill for a salami from Lazar’s right about now.

  2. Frances Archer November 29, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    Deb, me too.

  3. robert kaplan December 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    are lazars hot dogs still made by anyone?

  4. Frances Archer December 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    I don’t think so, but maybe someone can confirm that. I think the Lazar’s sold their location to another Kosher meat company, which eventually was also sold.

  5. Eliezer Appleton January 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    I seem to remember Lazar’s being on Pulaski, just south of Devon, in the 70s. Am I confusing it with a different store, or did Lazar’s move from Kedzie to Pulaski at some point?

  6. Frances Archer January 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    I don’t know about that. I once saw something that made me think Lazar’s was sold to another company, maybe Best Kosher Sausage. So it is possible that they opened later on Pulaski, but I didn’t see it. Anyone know?

  7. Eliezer Appleton January 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    I just spoke to my mother. She confirmed that my memory is faulty. We went to Lazar’s on Kedzie. I don’t know where I got the idea that it was on Pulaski.

  8. Frances Archer January 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Thanks for confirming.

  9. dov epstein February 3, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    I live in Jerusalem, and there’s a meat shop, owned by the daughter of the Lazar’s, and her husband. They have an excellent name for quality.

  10. Frances Archer February 3, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    That is a wonderful contribution to this story, knowing the tradition goes on. I get emails from time to time from people wondering if Lazar’s is still in business. If you stop in their shop, let them know we miss Lazar’s on Kedzie.

  11. Hawley Forde April 15, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    I remember Lazar’s hotdogs. We would get them at the Hillman’s grocery store located at 35th and Cottage Grove back in the 50’s & 60’s. I was a kid that lived in Michigan but my parents owned some apartment buildings in the area “Woodlawn Park”. The Big treat was when we came to Chicago was to get Lazar’s Hot Dogs. We were highly disappointed when they stopped making them.

    Then, a number of years later in the late 70’s or early ’80’s I went to a big industrial show at McCormick Place. I went down stairs and decided to get a hot dog. UNMISTAKABLY, it was the Lazar recipe. I asked around and found where they were made and went and got some. Had to buy in bulk as that was the only way that particular recipe was sold. Their recipe for the spices was uniquely delicious.

    Now you are telling me I have to go to Jerusalem for a hot dog. You know what, it will be worth it. Does anyone have their address or email over there?

  12. Frances Archer April 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Hawley, you are so right. Lazar’s had a distinctive spicy flavor. I’ll have to look up who sent me that info about the Jerusalem store and see if they have more details. When you get there, bring a pack home for me. This reminds me of our family taking frozen Lazar’s hot dogs to my grandfather in western Pennsylvania on the train. We must have looked pretty Old World.

  13. Aredee November 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    As a Jewish kid growing up in Milwaukee, we made frequent trips to Chicago, especially the Rogers Park area, to visit relatives. These trips usually concluded with a stop at the oleo emporiums at the state line (this was when yellow, quartered margarine was still illegal in the dairy state and otherwise law-abiding folks like us would smuggle in margarine by the case for ourselves or to share with friends).

    Prior to the margarine stop, we’d make a pilgrimage to what was then a Kosher street, Devon Avenue, to buy corned beef (far cheaper than the Milwaukee delis sold it), home-made hot dogs strung together that had a casing so tough they would “snap” when you?it into them) and halvah.

    When my brother was courting his first wife, a Rogers Park girl, My brother and I took the old Chicago & Northwestern train from Chicago to the Evanston station (easier than going into the loop) to spend a weekend with his soon-to-be fiancé and her family. One of our excursions took us to Lazar’s. I don’t remember the address from back then–about 45 years ago–but North Kedzie sounds about right. I do remember it being a busy place and the aroma of salami, pastrami, and corned beef as I walked into the door. Back then, if memory serves me correctly, Lazar’s was a wholesale supplier to Kosher delis throughout the Chicago area and his own store served as a kind of “factory outlet” that sold to the public at lower prices than most per pound takeout delis.

    Is this my memory playing tricks on me, or does anyone else remember Lazar’s as a Kut Rate Kosher outlet? It’s significant that after forty years I still remember the place after only one visit.

  14. Frances Archer November 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    You’ve come to the right place. That was Lazar’s but I didn’t realize it was a factory outlet, but you may be right. The factory was there, and the store was there. They did supply delis throughout Chicago, because I do recall seeing Lazar’s salamis in other places. I also forgot about that old Wisconsin law about margarine. Thanks for visiting.

  15. Susan Silverberg May 2, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    I am one of 23 of sol & eva lazar’s grand children. They eere very charitable people & also took good care if their employees. No one knew where & what sol lazar gave to help prople until his death. He was a very honest , generous person who cared for people not only jews. He wS our hero. He worked very hard for all he made & had. Eva & sol lazar will never be forgotten.

  16. Aimee Goldberg May 2, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Sol Lazar is my great grand-father. His daughter Mary is my grandmother. I am too young to have known Lazar’s but my family has talked about it my whole life!

  17. Frances Archer May 3, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    Susan, thank you for stopping by. 23 grandchildren–wow! Thank you also for sharing the memory ofyour grandfather. It’s a funny thing about people–you don’t have to know them to know them. I only visited your grandfather’s store as a child, and I have no idea whether I ever saw him there or not. But the fact that I, and so many other of the people who remember the business from their childhood, can have such fond memories of a butcher shop tells you he was doing something right. I wish I did have the chance to meet him and provide his full story here, but I will also have the wonderful memory of the delicious smell as we pulled open the glass doors into the store. And of course my extended family knows Lazar’s hot dogs because we brought them to my Zeide’s house in Pennsylvania every year!

  18. Frances Archer May 3, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    Hi, Aimee. Thanks you for stopping by–your family was right.The store was worth talking about!

  19. Terry June 3, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    My dad worked as a butcher for Lazar’ s 5511 N. Kedzie. When I was a kid my Dad took me to visit/tour the factor. Susan you are right Sol Lazar was a good man, he would show off the plant and have a tray of house made goodies for us, hotdogs, salami, baloney, kiska, pickled green tomatoes, Kaiser rolls, onion rolls, etc. just to name a few. He loved helping people, he treated his employees like family, they sold to Kosher Zion.

  20. Frances Archer June 10, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    Terry, thanks so much forstopping by and leaving a comment. Keep an eye out — I will soon be uploading some photos.

  21. Terry July 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Can’t wait to see the photos, Willie Daniel was my dad’s name!

  22. dorothy talesnick July 9, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    i am the youngest daughter of Sol and Eva Lazar residing in jerusalemm with
    my husband and family since1972. we were very touched reading all the fond memories you all have regarding my special father and his legacy even after such a lapse of time.
    my husband ,sons and grandsons are continuing family tradition manufacturing quality delicatessen& HOTDOGS.
    we will be very happy if you and others will continue sharing memories regarding Lazars and my father.i will upload pictures from that era hope you enjoy them.

    p.s. terry- my husband Sidney worked with your father and uncles for many years and would be happy to share info about them and other coworkers from the good ole days

  23. Howard Korengold August 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    I don’t know how I missed the exciting hearings before Nathan Cohen, I was his law clerk in 1956. I graduated law school in 1957 and worked for him until he went on the bench, i.e. became a judge. I did not have an office. I had a desk at he end of the hall. I recall other newsworthy hearings. In the ancient days before cell phones the reporters sat on my desk and used my phone to phone in their stories.

  24. Frances Archer August 17, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    What a small world that you would have known and worked for Mr. Cohen! Were the offices at City Hall? You must have had been out of the office that date in March 1957. How exciting had you been there. A case from the neighborhood.

  25. Howard Korengold August 18, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    Frances, A Master in Chancery took testimony in his law office and after the hearings were over, wrote a report and submitted it and his recommendations to the judge who appointed him to hear the case Usually the judge followed the Master’s recommendations and signed an Order adopting them. The Master submitted his bill to the parties together with a recommendation as to how it should be paid. If there were squawks the judge heard testimony and determined the fee and the responsibility. Obviously there were people who did not like the system and in the 1960s Masters were abolished and extra judges(including my boss) were appointed….Howard

  26. Frances Archer August 30, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

    Thanks for the clarification! It sounds very Dickensian.

  27. David S Criz April 4, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

    I too having lived in Hollywood Park much of my first 19 years (moving only as far as Lincoln & Devon after that) remember Lazar’s pretty well and the goodies they made. Does anyone know —- did they originate the “foot long” hot dog ?? The other question I have is about what are pickled “been” tomatoes ? It was mentioned twice in this particular story line and remarks. Do you mean pickled green tomatoes which are a common deli item !

  28. Frances Archer April 4, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

    David, I’m stumped! I have no idea where the foot long hot dog started, but I first heard about at Franksville across from Wrigley Field when I was a little one. I have such a strong memory of it — the idea of a foot long hot dog just seemed incredible to me. On the other issue, it must be green tomatoes.

  29. Larry Reid May 17, 2016 at 10:04 am #

    I grew up in Budlong Woods, and every week we would go to Lazar’s for our deli meats. My grandfather Abe was a journeyman plumber, and he knew the Lazar family from the West Side. When the building on Kedzie was built, family history says that Abe did much of the plumbing work there.

    Like other people who’ve responded, I miss the hot dogs, corned beef and even the tongue we’d get from Lazar’s.

  30. Frances Archer May 17, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    Hi, Larry. Enjoyed reading about your family’s personal connection to Lazar’s. If you’re new to the blog, welcome. I write about Hollywood Park and the surrounding neighborhoods, but I did live in Budlongs Woods through mid-first grade, Washtenaw and Argyle. Two blocks from school!

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