The Carnegie Deli, the famous New York City landmark will soon be closing its doors for the final time. Open since 1937, the long running restaurant will be closing at the end of 2016.
Current Carnegie restaurant owner Marian Harper Levine, 65, told her staff of 60 people the sad news. She talked about the long hours and sleepless nights operating the deli. Her family has owned the Carnegie Deli since 1976. “I’m very sad to close the Carnegie Deli but I’ve reached the time of my life when I need to take a step back,” Levine said, according to the New York Post.
The Carnegie brand will still live on through a Levine family owned meat processing facility and a commercial bakery in New Jersey. Some smaller satellite Carnegie branches will also remain open in places like Madison Square Garden arena, Las Vegas, and Pennsylvania. But the long history of the original famous restaurant will be gone.
The Carnegie has closed down before, albeit temporarily. In early 2015, the restaurant closed down for nine months because of an illegal gas hookup.
One of the famous deli trademark dishes is a combination of pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. When stacked high on rye bread, the dish is known as the “Woody Allen.” Another popular dish is the potato knish, a mashed potato filled pastry. Cheesecake is a signature item as well at Carnegie.
Massive high-calorie sandwiches, abrupt wait staff, and a kitsch atmosphere were the trademarks of the Carnegie Deli. Within the building are hundreds of nostalgic signed photos of past celebrities who have visited the place. Among the famous visitors were Henry Winkler, James Brown, Bill Clinton, and Denzel Washington.
Carnegie Deli was also featured in different movies and television programs based in New York. One of the most memorable was from Woody Allen’s film Broadway Danny Rose in 1984.
To many locals and tourists, the Carnegie represents a link to a simpler era. A place where one could eat big portions and not worry about modern concerns such as gluten and proper nutrition. With linoleum flooring and bad lighting, the kosher-style deli was never considered a fine dining experience.
In fact, many of the Carnegie customers were tourists visiting New York, writes the New York Times. Visitors come to the deli from all over the United States and the world.
There will still be other delicatessen options in New York for those craving it. Kat’z Deli offers similar fare and is still going strong.
Carnegie Deli has had its share of challenges over the years, particularly recently. The length of the shutdown in 2015 due to the faulty gas line was a major blow to the long-time business. When the deli finally reopened there were long lineups around the block.
At one point, there was a class action lawsuit from past and present employees of Carnegie Deli, alleging that they were being cheated out of their legal wages by the owners. Ownership agreed to pay over $2.6 million to settle.
There was also a bitter and complicated divorce between married co-owners Marian and Sandy Levine which got dragged into court. Marian, who inherited Caregie Deli from her father, claimed her ex lied about the restaurant’s assets and took money to purchase a new home in Florida. Sandy also had an affair with one of the Carnegie staff and Marian claims that Sandy gave away secret recipes to his new girlfriend, who used it to start a new business. The divorce eventually was settled out of court.
When the Carnegie Deli closing was announced, people immediately began lining up to get their final orders in. It’s expected that business will be good for the last few months of the Deli. In particular, December 31 will be bittersweet, as New Yorkers and tourists have one last day to visit.
[Featured Image by Bebeto Matthews/AP Images]