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Sunday April 20, 2014
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Corned Beef Contender

 

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experiment cooked up by Winkler and one of his most loyal customers, Gus Avgoustis.

"I worked in the auto industry for thirty years as a mechanical engineer," says Avgoustis. "I used to eat at the Livonia Bread Basket all the time. [Winkler] would always say: 'You should open one of these places, Gus.' And I'd say, 'I've been working for the same company for thirty years. Give me a good reason why I should quit.' But the opportunity came. I took a buyout and called up Al and said, 'Guess what?'"

Winkler believes in Detroit-made food. Corned beef and pastrami from Sy Ginsberg's United Meat & Deli are the foundation on which most Bread Basket sandwiches are built. The Bread Basket website claims it cooks and slices 20,000 pounds of Ginsberg corned beef a week. Bread comes from two bakeries in the Detroit area, Superior Bread and the Bake Station. Detroit company Topor's supplies the pickles. "Even the potato chips are local," Avgoustis says. "I wanted to buy Lay's because they give you a better deal, but no, had to get Better Made, the local brand."

To many, deli in Ann Arbor means only one thing, and Avgoustis himself forces the inevitable comparison. "What do you think of in Ann Arbor when you think of deli?" he asks. The Z word, of course. "OK, well, our large sandwiches have ten ounces of meat--that's cooked meat. How many does Zingerman's have?" (Avgoustis actually didn't know, but we checked--a Zingerman's large corned beef sandwich has six.) "And is Zingerman's more expensive?" Almost twice the price.

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