Jewish delis, once landmarks in New York are now dwindling down in number, according to a Feb. 22 Los Angeles Times report. The publication reports that the Los Angeles delis are not faring any better and it all comes down to food prices and the dazzling array of restaurant choices at customers’ fingertips.
Some of these 50 or 60-year-old delicatessen establishments have just not hit the right spot with today’s younger generation. With access to thousands of restaurants and fast food service eateries offering more choices, the decision is clear.
The Los Angeles Times reports, for example, that when Junior’s Deli closed last year, loyal customers showed up for one last hurrah meal at the 53-year-old establishment, but one 32-year-old was unimpressed, explaining that “The food was unremarkable,” adding, Given that there are so many good places to eat in L.A., I have a really hard time saying yes to that.”
This sentiment appears to ring true around the country. Between the ease of acquiring bagels in grocery stores, rising lease rates and the slumping economy, coupled with demographic changes, it is only a matter of time before loyal deli patrons have only their fond memories to remind them of the former famous eateries.
Three established delis in three different states have now closed according to the Los Angeles Times. Ashkenaz Delicatessen in Chicago, Stage Deli in Manhattan and Jerry's Famous Deli in Cosa Mesa have all become landmarks of former good times.
Ted Merwin, an expert on Jewish culture and Dickenson College professor sums it up succinctly, “There's nothing that can bring back the centrality of the deli in either Jewish life or American life. There's no way they're going to survive in the numbers they once did.”
While some delis are attempting menu changes to revive and boost sales, that alone may not be the answer.
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