Jewish delis closing
Beef prices, inflated by the severe summer drought and mass exports to Japan, aren't helping. Neither are skyrocketing premiums for medical benefits for the eatery's unionized workers, Langer said.
And with diners still wary after the downturn, even a pastrami sandwich as revered as his struggles when it costs more than $20 a person after a beverage, a side dish, tax and tip, Langer said.
"At Quiznos, you can buy a sandwich for lunch for $5," he said. "That's a third of the cost at a first-class deli. The deli has a better-quality product, but you're going to be filled up with either option."
Part of the problem is younger customers, said David Saul, who with his brother John had inherited Junior's from their father, Marvin.
The deli always drew an older crowd, one that grew up eating at diners and other family-centric eateries. But millennials, ages 18 to 34, "don't understand delis or comfort food" and are "used to quick food and instant gratification, going through a drive-thru in 10 seconds," Saul said.
Throughout the restaurant industry, young diners are driving the push toward hip, healthful and sustainable offerings. Delis, known for menus laden with cheesy blintzes and corned beef, have tried to adapt with more low-calorie dishes and local ingredients.
Art's, which was launched by owner Ginsberg's parents 55 years ago, now sells a "tremendous amount" of egg-white omelets and salads to cater to the body-conscious set, he said. Jerry's in West Hollywood has a Louisiana burger, a Korean bibimbap bowl and fettuccine stroganoff on its sprawling menu. Before closing, Junior's added gluten-free rugelach and vegan chopped liver with peas and lentils.
A menu revamp at Canter's this fall brought in paninis — including some made with jalapeño bagels.
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