Ari's Picks

A Wonderful New Way to Stock up On Zingerman’s T-Shirts

Great Zingerman’s gift for a T-shirt lover you love!

Zingerman's Deli rainbow unicorn T-shirts

Given that he was born and raised in Japan and I grew up in the American Midwest, author Haruki Murakami and I seem to have a surprising number of things in common. As I wrote about last summer, we each run every day, write a lot, and got our career starts in food service. We both, I’ve learned from reading, also have prodigious piles of books and music. The thing I didn’t know until Tammie told me last year is that he and I both have a LOT of T-shirts. Murakami, much to my happy surprise, even did a book about his—Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love. He writes that:

T-shirts are one of those objects that just naturally pile up. They’re cheap, so whenever an interesting one catches my eye, I invariably buy it—plus people give me various novelty T-shirts from around the world. Which is how, before I even realized it, the number of T-shirts in my life has skyrocketed, to the point where there is no room in my drawers for them anymore. 

It sounded so familiar that I laughed out loud when I read it. Maybe you can relate. If you, like me and Haruki Murakami, have a hard time turning down a great T-shirt that you know you don’t exactly need but really like—or if you know someone like me or Murakami who has a hard time resisting a good T-shirt—we now have a great way for you to have at it.

This new option came online thanks to the creative thinking of the folks at Underground Printing here in Ann Arbor. Rishi Narayan, the co-founder, has been a big Zingerman’s fan for years and we’re very appreciative of Rishi’s work as well. As you’ll see in this piece, we have a great many shared values. I smile too when I think about Underground Printing because they originally opened up at 1114 S. University in Ann Arbor, the same building in which, back in 191l two young anarchists, Abraham Seltzer and Eugene Chatterton, ran a restaurant for a year called “Seltzer and Chatterton.” Underground moved across the street a few years ago when the building was going to be replaced by a high rise, but the positive anarchist spirit still resides in their organizational culture.

Last year Rishi and crew came up with this creative new program: We put the T-shirts on these sites. You order. They print what you want and ship it straight to you!

There are two Zingerman’s T-shirt stores up right now, and maybe more on the way. On the Deli site, there’s the long-popular Zingerman’s Deli Rainbow Unicorn shirt, illustrated by Ian Nagy. And I’ve always loved the one from Next Door with a lovely visual listing of coffee drinks across the front, illustrated by a former Deli staffer named Kayo. Just this week, we added a special new hoodie, also beautifully done by Ian, that’s dedicated to my late, deeply appreciated, and much-missed friend Daphne Zepos. You can read about Daphne’s far too early passing in the Epilogue of Part 3. Part of her legacy is the Daphne Zepos Teaching Endowment—it was created out of a vision she dictated when she was in her final days. $10 from each shirt goes to the fund.

The Roadhouse T-Shirt shop has the new and beautiful “Blacks in Culinary” T-shirt that I and others have been wearing of late. It’s taken from a section of Patrick-Earl Barnes’ amazing art piece of the same name that’s hanging on the north wall of the Roadhouse’s “Fireplace Room.” We donate $10 from the sale of each shirt to the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County! You’ll also see the great Roadhouse “cartoon” shirts—the Biscuits, the Nashville Hot Chicken, and the New Mexico Green Chiles. Additionally, you’ll find, for the first time, a new, black and blue version of the Belief Cycle T-shirt some of you have seen me wearing. The original was created by Underground as an appreciation for me after I spoke to their leadership team about beliefs a few years ago! Many folks have asked to buy a shirt with the Belief Cycle, and now you can!

If you’re looking for a different gift, or you just, like me and Haruki Murakami, have a hard time passing up a good T-shirt, check out these two sites and order up soon! Maybe, now that I think about it, I’ll order some to send to Mr. Murakami in appreciation of his wonderful work!

Shop Deli T-shirts

Shop Roadhouse T-shirts

P.S. Here’s a podcast I did with Rishi! For historical context, it was recorded in January 2020, and released two weeks after the start of the pandemic!

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