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Junior's Deli closing after 53 years on Westside

December 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Hot off the grill or a deli sandwich stacked high, the food at Junior's Delicatessen has kept customers loyal for decades.

"You can't beat it really, corned beef sandwiches, roast beef, everything is really superb," said Tom Cunningham of Beverly Hills.

But the pastrami and matzo ball soup will soon be history.

"For 53 years people have been coming here because they know it's like going home," said David Saul. "It's comfort food. It's the essence of eating in mom's kitchen."

Saul and his brother took over the business after their father, who founded Junior's, died last year. Their lease is up at the end of the month and it's not being renewed.

Saul says the landlord, Four Corners Investments of Beverly Hills, wants a substantial rent hike, one Saul says Junior's can't afford. Eyewitness News reached out to the landlord for comment but has not heard back.

The restaurant's 95 employees now need to find new jobs on short notice. Jose Sorto worked his way up from dishwasher to manager.

"I have no words to describe it," he said. "And I'm just telling my customers I'm going to miss them."

Celebrities like Bruce Willis and Hank Azaria were known to frequent the deli, which was originally located on Pico Boulevard. The restaurant moved to its current location at 2379 Westwood Blvd. in 1967.

Suzyn Goldenberg dropped in Thursday to stock up on soup and say goodbye to the New York-style deli she's patronized for 20 years, and the people who made it possible.

"The best is Dave and his brother and Tom, I love them all they always take care of us," she said.

It may seem like a tall order, but Junior's hopes to relocate and continue serving the community.

"We have not made our last corn beef sandwich, we have not baked our last bagel, will be back at some level," said Saul.

"The assertion by David and John Saul that negotiations with Four Corners Properties LLC allegedly broke down over proposed rise in the rent is entirely inaccurate. Four Corners on a number of occasions granted John and David Saul substantial rental concessions. However, due to their lack of experience in the restaurant business, they have been unable to turn the business around resulting in their determination to close Juniors Deli. They have in fact failed to pay rent since mid-November 2012," said Behzad Nahai, attorney for Four Corners Properties LLC, on Friday, Dec. 28.