SKOKIE, Ill. — It’s been a long year for loyal customers of Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen, but the popular Jewish deli in Skokie is back in business after a fire last year.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, until a fire gutted the deli a year ago, Kaufman’s was a weekly ritual for many customers.

Now, after several delays, the bagel bakery and deli is back in business.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports

Carol Schreier couldn’t wait to get inside and get her bagels on Monday.

“I’m so thrilled. I have relatives in Arizona and other places that have been on the Internet, looking to see when Kaufman’s would open,” she said. “I’m excited; can’t wait to get in there. … It’s been so hard not having this wonderful, familiar, warm, super place to go to.”

kaufmans deli 2 1105 A Year After Fire, Kaufmans Deli To Reopen In Skokie

A year after a fire caused severe damage, Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen in Skokie reopened on Nov. 5, 2012. (Credit: Regine Schlesinger/WBBM)

Owner Judy Dworkin, whose family has owned Kaufman’s for three decades, said it’s been tough getting to this day, but she said she never considered not reopening the deli.

“I’m a fighter,” she said.

As staffers waited on customers Monday morning, phones kept ringing non-stop as word got around that Kaufman’s was back in business.

“We’re just happy to greet all of our customers. They’re so thrilled to be back,” said Judy’s daughter and co-owner, Bette Dworkin. “Just watching people come in the door and yelling – yelling – ‘Thank God you’re open! Haven’t had a corned beef sandwich in a year!’”

A fire in the early morning hours of Nov. 7, 2011, severely damaged the deli.

kaufmans deli 1106 A Year After Fire, Kaufmans Deli To Reopen In Skokie

Kaufman’s Bakery & Delicatessen in Skokie was forced to close after a fire on Nov. 6, 2011, damaged the popular deli. (Credit: Steve Miller, WBBM)

At the time, fire officials said the blaze was likely sparked by malfunctioning cooking equipment.

Before the fire, Kaufman’s boasted about having the best corned beef in town, and their bagels had USA Today naming their bakery one of the best in the country.

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