2nd Avenue Deli Was Forced from the East Village 10 Years Ago

Posted on: January 11th, 2016 at 10:33 am by

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Dismantling the deli in 2006, Photo: Eater

For Jewish deli lovers these days, the joke is still that the venerable 2nd Avenue Deli no longer resides on its namesake street. In fact, there are two locations – Murray Hill and Upper East Side – neither of which are near Second Avenue (but are Kosher).

Well, we’ve reached the milestone. Last week marked the tenth anniversary of the diaspora from the East Village neighborhood it called home since 1954. Indeed. January 1, 2006 goes down in the history books as its final day at 156 Second Avenue (at East 10th Street), forced out due to escalating rent and resultant lease dispute with the landlord.

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“My current rent is $24,000 a month for 2,800 square feet,” owner Jack Lebewohl told the New York Times at the time. “They want $33,000. I can’t afford that.” Apparently, there had been five years left on the lease with the previous landlord, Sterling Equities. That arrangement didn’t survive the building sale to Jonis Realty, though. Significant renovations were also needed to bring the restaurant up to code, and a long-term lease was needed to justify the cost. It didn’t work out.

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Photo: 2nd Avenue Deli

Its OG home became a Chase bank not long after the closure, and is now one of the main branches serving the area after a consolidation (nay, bloodbath) back in November. Meanwhile, the “Yiddish Walk of Fame” is still intact, embedded in the sidewalk outside the entryway. It includes plaques of Molly Picon, actor Menasha Skulnik, singer and actor Boris Thomashevsky, and Fyvush Finkel.

Lebewohl, 67, has been running the business since his brother, Abe (a co-founder), was murdered during a robbery in March 1996. That crime remains a cold case, with reward posters still plastered to the entrance of the newer restaurants ($100K reward offered). A pocket park across the street from the old place was named in his honor.

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Photo: Famous Ankles

And a bonus menu from 1974…

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Photo: NYPL

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