Los Angeles’ Greenblatt’s Deli and Fine Wine Shop shuttered abruptly on Wednesday, ending nearly a century-long run for a fixture of Jewish food on Sunset Boulevard.
Opened in 1926 and run by a single family since the 1940s, Greenblatt’s described itself as a “wine merchant that fronts as a deli.” Eater reported that the restaurant was struggling amid the pandemic-induced labor shortage, and that the owner wanted to close now rather than risk closure during the Jewish holidays next month.
“I started to take over the running of the business from my dad almost 40 years ago,” owner Jeff Kavin wrote in a statement cited by the Los Angeles Times. “The COVID-19 crisis was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me at my age. I really enjoyed my years at Greenblatt’s and all of the wonderful people I met.”
The publication reported that Greenblatt’s closed temporarily for two months at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and then pivoted to a takeout-and-delivery-only model. The deli just recently reopened indoor dining.
Kavin said he plans to lease the restaurant space to another business, but no deal is yet in place, the LA Times reported.
Some Greenblatt’s fans reportedly rushed to the restaurant on Wednesday to order their final sandwiches after hearing the news, while others posted tributes online.
Tobin Mitnick, an actor whose online moniker is “A Jew Who Loves Trees,” posted a line from the play “Our Town” on his Instagram account. “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?” he wrote, before supplying his own answer: “Every minute there I did.”
A server at the deli told the LA Times that regulars and guests showed up en masse on Wednesday. “People were offering hundreds of dollars for pastrami,” Emily Marks told the LA Times after her final shift.
“Everybody was trying to finagle; as soon as we cut off the line for service, there were people from the line trying to sit with people who already had tables, so they could sneak in. I was like, ‘I’m waiting on them! I know them! You’re not going to fool me,’” she said.
Meanwhile, the city has also seen several new businesses serving Jewish deli food open recently, mostly in the form of pop-ups that emerged in response to the pandemic’s volatility for restaurants.