Saying Goodbye to Another Legend in 2016
Well, 2016 has certainly been a year of heartbreaking losses, and it couldn't end without taking one more famous name with it, and this one hits me particularly hard.
But this isn't yet another celebrity death--this loss was preventable.
It was announced on Friday that the legendary Carnegie Deli in New York City closed its doors forever. They served their last pastrami sandwich just after midnight Friday.
The deli's president, Marian Harper-Levine, told the media that the day-to-day operations of running the restaurant had become too much to handle, but yet she also turned down an offer of $10 million from former Carnegie Deli dishwasher Sammy Musovic to keep the 7th Avenue location in operation. Musovic worked their as a "pearl-diver" in the 1970s and rose to become a very successful restaurateur in the Big Apple.
While that might have seemed like a happy ending for everyone involved, Harper-Levine didn't want to have to give up the Carnegie name. She said she plans to expand "wholesale and retail operations." Carnegie could also expand their licensed locations as well, with spots at Madison Square Garden, in Las Vegas, at the Six Flags park in New Jersey, the Foxwoods casino and elsewhere.
It's no secret that I'm a big-time sandwich fan. I used to sign off every Saturday morning show with Warren Zevon's advice to "enjoy every sandwich." I had always dreamed of going to the Carnegie Deli, which I always jokingly referred to as "Jewish Mecca." I finally got my chance in 2014, during a trip to New York City for the premiere of my first television writing job, Ghost Stalkers.
The Destination America network threw a big party for the premiere in the Bowery section of NYC, and my dad and I made the drive down to take part. After the party ended at around 10 p.m., we left to head back to Massachusetts, but decided to drive by a few sites first. Even at 10 o'clock on a Monday night, New York is hopping with activity and things to see.
While looking at my GPS app on my phone, I realized at one point that we weren't too far from Carnegie Deli. I mentioned it to my dad, who immediately asked, "Want to go?"...as if there was any question.
We found a parking spot about a block away and walked into the deli, which was still pretty busy despite the late hour. Immediately, we were greeted with the enticing aromas of cured meats and all the other amazing offerings that had made the Carnegie Deli a go-to destination (and most New Yorkers would suggest, a tourist trap) since 1937.
The large menu made it tough to decide, because everything sounded so good. But as we munched on the most perfect half-sour pickles I've ever had, the decision became clear: The Woody Allen. It was the Carnegie's most famous sandwich, featuring a gigantic pile of the deli's equally famous pastrami and corned beef, with a generous slathering of brown mustard on rye bread.
It was enormous, and I struggled just to finish half of it (and struggled not to eat the other half on the way home, which could have proved disastrous in the car). It was, I can safely say, the most amazing sandwich I'd ever had in my life.
And now, I'll never get to have another one again. At least, not in the original Carnegie Deli itself.
Sure, I could drive to Foxwoods and order one up. Or I could order some of their pastrami and corned beef from the website and make a monster sandwich at home. But it just won't be the same...even I spring another $32 for the cheesecake, too.
No, I'm just going to have to live the rest of my life knowing that the one trip I made to Jewish Mecca was also my last. But spending that day with my dad and enjoying some time together visiting a place we'd both always wanted to see is a memory that I'll always cherish.
But I could really go for one last half-sour pickle right about now...