After eighty years as a New York institution, the Carnegie Deli is set to close at the end of the year. The restaurant’s massive sandwiches and authentic atmosphere made it a part of the fabric of the city, so much so that many New Yorkers took it for granted. Until now, when its impending closure has made many residents wax nostalgic.
These days, despite being a foodie Mecca for so many years, the Carnegie Deli has become more of a tourist trap than a New York City staple. The midtown location, lines of people out the door, crowded atmosphere, huge portions, and loud staff now seem more geared toward tourists who want a cartoon version of a Jewish New York deli than a place for real New Yorkers to fulfill their pastrami cravings. The Carnegie Deli started its downfall a few years ago when scandals like the owners’ divorce, illegal gas siphoning, increasing pries, and decreasing food quality rocked headlines and city gossip.
Even so, natives and transplants alike admit they will miss the deli when it is gone. Many New Yorkers agree that shutting down iconic pieces of New York culture like the Carnegie Deli in the name of progress are killing “the soul of this great dining city.” Though the deli ended up becoming “an exhibition” that “wouldn’t have been out of place in Epcot Center,” it is “a place that represents the identity of who we are as New Yorkers.” We have to decide if preserving pieces of culture like these is more important than setting up a shop featuring the next big food trend.