This former dishwasher is trying to save New York’s Carnegie Deli from closing

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

When it comes to iconic New York landmarks, it doesn’t get more iconic than the Carnegie Deli.  Located across the street from the famed Carnegie Hall, the deli has been in operation since 1937 and was the famous shooting location for Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose.” The deli’s patrons have ranged from celebrities to tourists to locals who were all challenged to finish one of its over-stuffed pastrami or corned beef sandwiches.

But harder times have befallen this small business. At one point the restaurant had more than 180 seats and now it’s down to just 60. Costs have risen and so has the competition. So much so that the strain of running the 60-person landmark has finally taken its toll on its owner, Marian Harper Levine, whose family acquired the restaurant in 1976. She sadly announced late last week that “the world’s most famous delicatessen” would be closing at the end of this year. Employees, customers and fans were heartbroken.

But wait! A savior may have appeared.

As reported in the New York Post, a restaurateur who started his career as a dishwasher at the famed diner wants to raise $5 million to keep the restaurant in business.  “When I saw they wanted to close . . . I was devastated,” Sammy Musovic told the Post. “It’s like taking the Statue of Liberty away from New York or the Empire State Building.”

Musovic, a self-professed lover of the local restaurant industry, held a rally in front of the deli on Monday and promised to do whatever he could to raise the money needed.  He reached out to the restaurant’s owners but they have yet to get back to him, instead issuing a statement that they “are not connected with any fund-raising effort” and have “no interest in discussing the sale of Carnegie Deli on Seventh Avenue with Musovic at this time.”

The Carnegie name will live on through its licensed products, online desserts and other locations in Bethlehem, Pa. and Las Vegas. But unfortunately it’s just one more reminder that running a small business – even the “world’s most famous delicatessen” – is no easy task.


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