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Special Request: Ruma's Deli still makes Prosperity Sandwich like grandma used to
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Special Request: Ruma's Deli still makes Prosperity Sandwich like grandma used to

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Prosperity sandwich at Ruma's Deli

The Prosperity sandwich with roast beef, provel cheese, gravy and garlic butter at Ruma's Deli, on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in south St. Louis County. Photo by Huy Mach, hmach@post-dispatch.com

Q • Every week, my old office ordered Prosperity Sandwiches from Ruma’s Deli. What a treat! — Debbie Sheil, University City

A • Ever had a Gerber Sandwich? A Prosperity Sandwich? If it’s been anywhere other than Ruma’s Deli, it’s not the official thing. That’s because Ruma’s Deli, which once had 21 locations around St. Louis, copyrighted and trademarked the Gerber and Prosperity names for their toasted ham and beef open-face sandwiches. (The name “Prosperity” was attached to sandwiches as early as the 1920s.)

“My friends are great,” say Brock Ruma, grandson and current owner of Ruma’s Deli founders. “When somebody finds our sandwich somewhere else, they let me know.” Once upon a time, the Gerber outsold the Prosperity 20 to 1. Today, it’s a dead heat, 1 to 1.

Ruma has been involved in what he calls an “Italian sub shop” since he was 15 years old, first helping out his grandparents, then his parents. Now Ruma and his wife own both Ruma’s locations, the original spot near Lemay Ferry and South Lindbergh and a second in Imperial. The Rumas are parents to four children but still do all the cooking and slicing. “These are family recipes,” he says. “Someone else could do it but …” Besides sandwiches, Ruma’s Deli offers house-made St. Louis-style pizza, pastas, salads and more.

For the hot Prosperity sandwich, Ruma employs the same braising technique used by his grandparents. Well, almost. He’s made one concession to convenience: that’s buying “denuded” beef, boneless roasts with the fat already trimmed. “My grandmother always told me that you want a little fat, it drips down into the meat juices to flavor the gravy.” Nearly every day, Ruma’s Deli cooks three 22-pound roasts at a time, a two-day process. Sometimes Ruma wonders whether the deli’s 40-some year-old conventions are necessary.

“My wife and I argue whether water makes the fat rise to the top of the meat juices. But that’s how my grandmother did it, so that’s how I do it.”


Ruma’s Deli – South County

1395 Covington Manor Lane

314-892-9990

Ruma’s Deli – Imperial

1129 Imperial Main Street

314-892-9990

rumasdeli.com


Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.

To request a recipe

Would you like to request a recipe from a restaurant that is still open in the St. Louis area? Send your request along with your full name and the city you live in to reciperequest@ post-dispatch.com.

Special Request is written by Town and Country resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column KitchenParade.com and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.  

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