The Slow Death of the New York Deli

Posted on: December 3rd, 2009 at 9:45 am by

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Today, The Independent (UK) takes a look at the slow death of the New York deli.  While Katz’s holds on by a thread in its threatened Ludlow Street location, others weren’t so lucky.  The article explores how such an icon of Jewish, and city life in general, remains under fire by skyrocketing rents and community dispersal.  And comparisons are made to delis in London.

The Jewish deli is as iconic a part of the New York landscape as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. But though in a handful of establishments you can still find enough knishes, kishkes and kreplach to keep the New York winter chill at bay, these culinary institutions are under threat. In 1931 there were 1,550 Jewish delis in New York City; today just two dozen remain. They are the victim of spiralling rents, the dispersal of Jewish communities, a decline in people keeping kosher and the rise of healthy eating.

Once upon a time, you couldn’t walk a block in the Lower East Side without being hit by the meaty aroma wafting through the doors of one deli or another. “You had this concentration of Jewish workers who needed kosher food and these pickled and preserved foods were cheap, filling sustenance,” says David Sax, a lifelong deli lover and author of Save the Deli. Today there is only Katz’s left in what was once a thriving immigrant community.


The article fails to mention, however, neighborhood favorite Noah’s Ark on Grand Street.

[Photo via jtny]

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