New York City's world-famous Carnegie Deli survived nearly eight decades. But it won't survive its current owner.
The deli, which opened its doors in 1937, had been having a rough go of things lately. It closed for a year in 2015 following the discovery of an illegal gas hookup. Staffers filed a lawsuit over wages. And a backroom soap opera unfolded in the gossip pages when it was alleged the owner cheated on his wife with a waitress, whom he allegedly helped open a fake Carnegie Deli in Thailand.
In the end, the owner blamed the grind of running a restaurant. Now, tourists will no longer be able to pay $20 for a pastrami sandwich or $3 to share it as one more great Jewish institution in New York kicks the knish. It's closing at the end of December.
It may be just as well. The Carnegie, conveniently located near Times Square, may have been an icon of the tourist circuit, but not all New Yorkers thought it deserved to be. Some people even called it a tourist trap. Our own Frommer's review recommends it somewhat grudgingly, acknowledging you'd have to overlook "surly service, tourist-targeted overpricing, and elbow-to-elbow seating" if you want to try its home-smoked meats. Its main rival in the district, which also opened in 1937, blintzed out in 2012.
The Carnegie also featured prominently in Woody Allen's Broadway Danny Rose, misleading a fair number of out-of-towners to mistakenly think it was also the setting of the "I'll have what she's having" scene in When Harry Met Sally. That historic deli, though, is still with us: It's Katz's Delicatessen downtown on Houston Street, where a pastrami sandwich will also set you back $20, but which has been in business since 1888.
Still, the loss of heritage is hardly chopped liver. It's hard to say goodbye to any irreplaceable institution—to say nothing of that iconic plastic sign.