Tuesday, September 05, 2006

2nd Ave Deli R. I. P.

The Second Avenue Deli was the last of the old neighborhood Jewish delicatessens. Growing up, there was one just like it in every Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan. I never went to Queens, so I don't know about that.

When I lived in the East Village, in the early 70s, it was still a small neighborhood place with white tile floors and countermen with concentration camp tattoos on their arms.

Sometime in the 70s, the Deli expanded and the decor was made fancier, but the menu did not change. Eventually the countermen were Hispanic and Asian, but the servers were the same crotchety old Jewish men and women. I once saw a waitress spill soup on a customer and then yell at the customer.

A few years ago, the founder and owner was murdered while making a night deposit. His children carried it on for a while, but I've read that they didn't own the building and the rents in this now gentrified neighborhood (the half-railroad I rented for $75 in 1971 would probably fetch $1,500+ now) were too high, so they closed it earlier this year.

Yes, there are other Jewish delis in New York, not the last of them Katz's, but the 2nd Ave.'s demise truly marks the end of an era.

Photo from Eater