Sophie Bolich

Hen’s Deli Opens in Walker’s Point

Offering scratch-made-bagels, tortas and coffee at site of former Soup Bros.

By - Dec 27th, 2022 02:59 pm
Site of Hen's Deli, 401-413 S. 2nd St. Photo taken Dec. 27, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Hen’s Deli, 401-413 S. 2nd St. Photo taken Dec. 27, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

The majority of gift-giving may have concluded for the season, but there’s still more to unwrap at the newly-opened Hen’s Deli, a counter-service, breakfast-and-lunch place in Walker’s Point.

The restaurant officially opened on Dec. 22, bringing its made-from-scratch bagels, meat-filled tortas and other handhelds to the neighborhood. To the delight of co-owners Vivian Sotolongo and Lucas McDonald, the opening attracted a steady stream of hungry customers — some neighborhood residents, others traveling from across the city — who braved the frigid, 30-below temperatures for a first taste of the deli’s offerings.

The cozy eatery occupies a 501-square-foot space at 209 W. Florida St., inside the former Soup Bros cafe. The updated interior features black-and-white tile flooring, a bakery display case and sage green walls accented with cheerful red trim. The deli’s size warrants a takeout-focused business model, though there is a single four-top table tucked into a corner nook for dine-in.

The fresh bagels are a prominent player on the deli’s menu. Order one toasted with regular or vegan cream cheese, or enjoy in sandwich form topped with bacon or sausage, egg and cheese. Other options include a pork pastrami bagel piled with swiss, “horsey mayo” and pickled onion, or the bagel Levantine, featuring baba ganoush, labneh, tabbouleh and pickled onion.

Lunch offerings include a classic steak torta and a variety of sub sandwiches. The American sub features bologna, summer sausage, American cheese and chips, while the Italian is stuffed with capicola, sopressata and provolone. The club sub includes ham, turkey, bacon and Swiss cheese. Additional toppings for each sandwich are fully customizable.

The deli also offers beverages including Sprecher root beer, non-alcoholic beer, sodas and coffee (half-price if you bring your own cup).

Though the food at the deli isn’t fussy, each dish is elevated with hand-made and carefully-crafted components. In addition to hand-shaping and boiling bagels, Sotolongo and McDonald hand-grind meat for sausages and experiment with brines for the perfect pickled onions, among other practices.

The partners’ emphasis on scratch-made foods is the culmination of years of industry experience, as well as their time operating Clarke Street Sausage, the pop-up and delivery business that formed the foundation of Hen’s Deli.

Sotolongo and McDonald each held a variety of industry positions leading up to their meet cute at the now-closed View MKE — he as executive chef and she as front-of- house manager. The two left their positions in the early months of the pandemic, launching Clarke Street Sausage shortly thereafter.

Throughout the past two years, the business frequented local farmers markets, where its homemade bagels, sausages, pastries and pickles quickly acquired a loyal following.

In marking its relocation to Walker’s Point and first brick-and-mortar location, Clarke Street Sausage rebranded to Hen’s Deli. The new name is a tribute to the couple’s children, taking the first initial of each to form the acronym H-E-N.

Hen’s Deli is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Updates, specials and holiday hours are regularly posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page.


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