At first they just seem like some coincidences, but the more you look at the menus of Zingerman’s (an Ann Arbor institution) and of Katzinger’s (some would say a Columbus institution, but clearly with less national fame than the former, and clearly the ‘original’) you would think they have some affiliation. They both have two kinds of pickles that you can choose with your sandwiches, they share a certain style to their sandwiches and they both have ridiculously high prices and they both have two sandwich sizes (okay, that’s not that strange). Anyway, after looking at their menus (Zingerman’s sandwich menu here, Katzinger’s here), and seeing the similarities, I noticed a post on Chowhound, on their midwest forum that said the two were corporate cousins (see a recent Chowhound thread on Zingerman’s). Despite the lack of love shared between Columbus and Ann Arbor, I though, hey its possible they do seem similar, but I figured I’d delve deeper and then I found out apparently they aren’t. That’s right, its just coincidence? At least corporately they are different, they each have their founding stories (Zingerman’s has led to an empire, at least locally and through mail order). Then later on I saw posts in the Chowhounds forums that at least in Zingerman’s eyes Katzinger’s wasn’t such a coincidence and that at one point a lawsuit was filed (and apparently lost by Zingerman’s) but I was unable to find evidence of this – although I did find a story that mentioned another Zingerman’s lawsuit against a deli.
I haven’t been to Zingerman’s in a while, but this Christmas I hope to drop in and have it again if I can wiggle it into my family’s Christmas plans while we are up in Michigan for the holiday, and as for Katzingers, the first time I had it I was disappointed, considering the prices it wasn’t that good, but I will give it another shot and then hopefully be able to gauge how skilled a rip off of Zingerman’s it is.