The Last 2016 Casualty – Carnegie Deli

The Carnegie is packing up the brine barrels on New Year’s Eve.  Fortunately Katz’s says it’s expanding, not going anywhere


Thank goodness.  Can’t take any more shocks.

Carnegie was a legit classic deli that survived decades and the slow decline, like the Stage Deli and Second Avenue Deli (the new version pales, sadly) who succumbed earlier.  It’s something to have made it this long against the tide as literally hundreds of similar establishments faded from the 60s through 00s.

One would have thought the Carnegie transcended to such a storied and landmark place that it could survive forever, but business is business and decisions are made by people, not institutions.

I was in a deli in Blue Bell, PA recently..  A nice little place, trying to do good deli tradition. On the walls of the restaurant were blown up black and white photos of classic delis like the Carnegie, Cantors, Katz’s and a few that were already defunct.  I went around the room identifying them all and toting up how many I’d eaten in.  When I noted how great the photos were to our Waitress, she said that she hadn’t actually looked at them, didn’t realize that they were photos of existing and formerly existing places.  They might as well have been Elvis on black velvet to her.

That’s how tradition dies.  When the people entrusted with it treat it as merely a job. Better to have the Carnegie die an honorable death still on its feet pushing pastrami, pickles and potato pancakes to a hungry and respectful clientele who knew they were tasting 100 years of tradition, not just a sandwich.

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