He helped grow the business from a small deli that opened in 1982 to a collection of businesses in partnership with other food entrepreneurs. In addition to the deli, other businesses are Zingerman's Bakehouse, ZingTrain (consulting), Zingerman's Catering & Events, Zingerman's Mail Order, Zingerman's Creamery, Zingerman's Roadhouse, Zingerman's Coffee Company, Zingerman's Candy Manufactory, and Zingerman’s Cornman Farms, located in Dexter.
He helped start the nonprofit Food Gatherers, and has served on a wide variety of boards for other organizations, including the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, NEW Center and the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).
Saginaw has been an advocate for increasing the federal minimum wage to a "thriving wage" level, and in 2014 received a Champions of Change award award from the White House, given to people who have taken action to raise wages for working men and women around the country.
Saginaw and his wife, Lori Saginaw, live in the Burns Park neighborhood. They have two sons, Ben and Zach.
May 2015: Gives University of Michigan spring commencement address, along with Ari Weinzweig.
2014: Receives Champions of Change award award from the White House, given to people who have taken action to raise wages for working men and women around the country.
July 2009: Suffers heart attack.
2007: Receives Lifetime Achievement award from Bon Appetit, along with Ari Weinzweig.
DATE? Serves on the board of the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).
2001-2008: Serves on the board of the NEW Center.
2000-2007: Serves on board of Washtenaw Housing Alliance board.
April 1995: Receives the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award, along with Ari Weinzweig, for their community contributions.
1988: Helps start Food Gatherers, a nonprofit food rescue and food bank program serving Washtenaw County.
March 15, 1982: Opens Zingerman's Deli on Detroit Street with Ari Weinzweig, two employees, and a $20,000 bank loan. The deli is located at the corner of Kingsley & Detroit streets, in a 1902 building that originally housed Disderide’s Grocery. They originally planned to call it “Greenberg’s Deli,” but that name was taken. They decide on Zingerman’s in part because it starts with Z and will be easy to spot at the end of the yellow pages.
1975: Leaves graduate program in public health to begin working at Maude's, a restaurant in Ann Arbor where he meets Ari Weinzweig.
DATE? Earns undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Michigan.
In the news
Video of Paul Saginaw & Ari Weinzweig 2015 University of Michigan Spring Commencement address – University of Michigan, May 2, 2015
Zingerman's co-founders emphasize generosity in Spring Commencement address – Michigan Daily, May 2, 2015
Zingerman's owners stress joy, generosity during U-M Spring Commencement address – MLive, May 2, 2015
Paul Saginaw reminisces about his uncle “Chickie” the bookie, Stef Chura sings of alien love, and local historian James Mann insists that he’s not a ghost… on episode 8 of The Saturday Six Pack – Mark Maynard blog, March 8, 2015
Paul Saginaw, Zingerman's co-founder, honored at White House – Detroit Free Press, July 22, 2014
At Zingerman’s, Pastrami and Partnership to Go – New York Times, July 5, 2014
Zingerman’s founder Paul Saginaw on his time with Obama, the importance of raising the minimum wage, and why business owners should invest in their employees instead of their lobbyists – Mark Maynard blog, April 13, 2014
Zingerman's owner travels to Washington, D.C., to lobby for increased minimum wage – MLive, Jan. 27, 2014
Restaurant owner: “I reject the argument that livable wages and profits are mutually exclusive” – Economic Opportunity Institute, Oct. 4, 2013
Yes, Indeed, It Was a Zinger! – The Company We Keep blog, Feb. 11, 2013
Ann Arbor entrepreneurs Dug Song and Paul Saginaw exchange thoughts on employee ownership and the meaning of wealth – Mark Maynard blog, June 7, 2012
Zingerman’s co-founder Paul Saginaw on the importance of robust local business ecosystems, the upcoming BALLE conference in Grand Rapids, and the meaning of “real prosperity” – Mark Maynard blog, April 22, 2012
Zingerman's Paul Saginaw: Don't shift tax burden to middle class – AnnArbor.com, Jan. 9, 2012
Small Businesses Sound Off on The 2012 Election by OPEN Forum – MSNBC, Jan. 6, 2012
Paul Saginaw: We Want to Change the World – The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Nov. 24, 2009
Column: Serious as a heart attack – The Ann Arbor Chronicle, Aug. 12, 2009
Saturday morning at the gym on the elliptical, that nasty elephant pain returned and it got the owner and my trainer, Heather, (a good Roadhouse customer and wife of Carsten Hohnke, the councilperson who helped save West Side Farmer’s Market this year) to come over and ask why I was moving like a turtle. “Angina.” Whoa, she yanked me off the machine, told me to get my ass to the doctor, and forbid me to come back until I had a doctor’s release. Liability, I am thinking.
Zingerman's founders get Bon Apetit Award – Ann Arbor News, Sept. 12, 2007
The Corner Deli that Dared to Break Out of the Neighborhood – New York Times, May 3, 2007