Gene’s closes Belmont Deli
by CYRYL JAKUBOWSKI
After nearly 36 years at its location on the Northwest Side, Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen, 5330 W. Belmont Ave., closed on Jan. 15 after it was sold to Carnicerias Jimenez, which is remodeling the store.
Gene’s Sausage owner Gene Luszcz said that the Jimenez family owns many butcher shops and stores in Chicago and the suburbs.
"We want to do a lot of things in-house," Luszcz said. The shop in Lincoln Square is at 4570 N. Lincoln Ave. That store opened in 2009 in the former Delicatessen Meyer that closed in 2007.
The Meyer shop was opened in 1954 by the Koetke family in what was once a predominantly German area.
Gene’s Delicatessen has been a neighborhood staple for smoked sausages, fresh meats prepared by butchers, European specialties and ethnic alcoholic beverages, not just in the Polish community, but also on the Northwest Side.
According to their Web site, Gene Luszcz and his brother John immigrated from a small farm village in Malopolskie, Poland, and in March of 1972 opened a small deli specializing in homemade sausages and other Polish delicacies using Old World recipes. "We started on Roscoe Street and then moved to the Belmont location," Luszcz said.
The John and Gene’s shop on Roscoe Street had a loyal clientele in the largely Polish neighborhood anchored by Saint Ladislaus Church. That business moved to the Belmont location for the additional space in 1980.
The Belmont shop was known for a large sculpture of a cow that dominated the outdoor sign.
"I wake up happy," Luszcz said about the sale. "The sun is shining. We’ve been here in the neighborhood for almost 50 years but everything has been moved to the Lincoln location now."
Luszcz said that the company recently collaborated with Arcade Brewing to create Gene’s Sausage Bock beer. The beer is made with malt smoked at Gene’s to provide a flavor that pairs with sausage, according to the brewery. The label features the likeness of Gene Luszcz wearing a white paper hat and sharpening a butcher knife.
Luszcz said that his family also owns the former Krakus Deli, 4772 N. Milwaukee Ave., and that he hopes to open a Gene’s store at that location some day.
Carnicerias Jimenez has shops at 3850 W. Fullerton Ave., 3850 W. North Ave. and 4204 W. North Ave., as well as shops in Addison, Melrose Park, Wheeling, Bensenville and West Chicago