After more than 30 years of running one of Columbus' most popular delis, Diane Warren has some personal time coming.

After more than 30 years of running one of Columbus' most popular delis, Diane Warren has some personal time coming.

But it will have to wait.

Warren sold her iconic restaurant, Katzinger's Delicatessen, last week to CityBRANDS, the restaurant arm of local developer Metropolitan Partners.

She will remain as a consultant to help with the transition.

Her spirits are high, despite the time she's spent building up the business.

"I feel great," she said. "I have been thinking about this for four years."

Warren's post-work itinerary includes catching up on books, regular outings with her walking group, enjoying her new house in Berwick and planning more trips.

"I've got 15 good years left," said Warren, who recently turned 69. "It's time to move on and do something else."

She and her then-husband, Steve, founded Katzinger's in 1984 at its current spot, 475 S. Third St. at the gateway of German Village.

Warren, who grew up in Bexley, wanted to create a Jewish deli like the ones she visited as a child in Miami.

"The village was the perfect place for us to open," she said, referring to its mix of residential and commercial businesses.

Warren and her husband would later divorce and she purchased his interests in the restaurant in 2007. Their daughter, Rachel, works at the deli.

The business now has 43 full- and part-time employees.

Warren said she will miss the staff and her customers.

"I've had some amazing relationships develop just from people walking through the door," she said.

One is Dr. J.T. Guy, a retired hematologist and oncologist who lives on Mohawk Street, just a few blocks away from the deli.

Enjoying a ham-and-cheese sandwich for lunch July 12, Guy said he's been a steady customer since Katzinger's opened. He learned about the sale earlier that morning.

"First of all I'm sure running a place like this is an immense amount of work, especially when you run it by yourself," he said.

Tim Rollins, president of cityBRANDS and founding partner of Metropolitan Partners, a local development firm, said there are no immediate plans to change anything at the deli or its sister operation in the North Market.

"Katzinger's has a tremendous history in Columbus," Rollins said. "It's an incredible, respected brand. It's known for great quality, always has been, and it's a special, unique restaurant in the marketplace."

Rollins said he was introduced to Warren by a mutual friend, who was aware of Warren's plans to sell Katzinger's and five separate buildings, all part of the same complex. No sales figure was disclosed for the restaurant and German Village properties.

"I think our immediate focus is going to be on going through a smooth transition," he said. "After we get comfortable with operations, we'll start to look at opportunities for growth in the market area."

CityBRANDS also owns four Wine Bistros and three Las Margaritas in the Columbus market.

Stefanie Cora, grocery manager at Katzinger's, said she was initially concerned about the sale.

"I had a lot of questions," she said.

But after learning of Rollins' plans to preserve quality, Cora said she's more at ease.

"I think that's really important because people are so loyal," she said.

Katzinger's is one of the longest-operating delis in Columbus, known for its well-worn appearance, dozens of custom-made sandwiches, Jewish side dishes and complimentary house-made pickles, bobbing in barrels in the dining room.

Katzinger's is also more than the average deli, offering a wide array of cheeses, wine, dressings, olives and sweets.

While the desire for corned beef and pastrami has led to numerous other sandwiches places in the city, few could compete with Katzinger's independent spirit.

"The fact that it's at a signature location in German Village, and German Village has all the character that comes along with that, that's very important to us and don't have any plans to change it," Rollins said.

"Customers have grown to love that business.

"They love the product that Katzinger's provides, they like where it's provided and we're going maintain and preserve that."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary