Save the Deli

Happy 50th Moe Pancer’s

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All this week Moe Pancer’s celebrates its 50th anniversary as one of Toronto’s most cherished delicatessens. A portion of all proceeds throughout the week will go to Sick Kids, plus there will be specials, baloons, and lots of mazel to go around.

In my lifetime as a Toronto deli eater, I got into Moe Pancer’s relatively late. My brother Daniel brought me there for the first time a few years ago, in the original location (just two blocks north of where it is now). Plastered with yellowing articles, photos, and memorabilia, it exudes the old time deli feel more than any other Toronto deli. It also smells…well reeks…of deli. The heavenly aroma of pickled meats blasts you as you walk into the door, leaving you anticipating until the moment that spicy pastrami sandwich lands in front of you. Daniel always goes for the salami, though I think their pastrami is by far the best in the city, and the corned beef is cooked in house.

These days I hit up Pancer’s with regularity whenever I’m back home. Lorne Pancer, the grandson of late founder Moe, and son of late owner Stan, is a deli man to the core and a hell of a mensch. My first interview for the book was with Lorne, and he and counterman Wilf were also the first to take me behind the counter and let me try my hand slicing briskets on the machine and smoked meat with a knife. Lorne’s an old fashioned guy, friends with the cops, firemen, and all manner of local characters…whom he regularly shtoops some karnatzel or a few extra pickles. In his books, everyone is “Bud” or “Sweetie” or “Da Boys”, and all are greeted with warmth and a big smile.

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Daniel had the tremendous honour of Lorne’s confusion for a few years, because he supposedly looks exactly like one of Pancer’s nephews. “Hey Daniel! How’s your father?” Lorne would ask, refusing to let him pay the bill. Daniel protested but then just shut up and ate himself deeper into sin. Only when he came in with my mother did Pancer realize his mistake, though Dan figures he must have had a dozen free meals there until the ruse was up.

Fifty is no small feat for a deli these days, and Pancer’s is among the longest continuosly family owned delicatessens in Canada. I’ll be stopping by on monday for congrats and a sandwich, and I suggest all Toronto Save the Deli fans do the same sometime this week. Give Lorne, Wilf, and Lori big hugs, get a spicy pastrami combo with a Vernors, and soak in one of Canada’s best delis.

Moe Pancer’s
“World Famous Pastrami”
Deli-Restaurant
3856 Bathurst St.
Downsview, Ont
416-633-1230

DS

9 Responses to “Happy 50th Moe Pancer’s”

  1. julia s Says:

    Yum! I’ll be there with bells on, and my appetite too!

  2. Bryan Skolnik Says:

    Lorne is the grandson of the founder, Moe Pancer. For many years the deli was run by Moe’s son (Lorne’s father) the late Stan Pancer. On another note, for many years there was a Red Pancer’s deli further north on Bathurst St. just south of Steeles. Although i’m not certain, I believe Red was related to Moe.

  3. Michael Pancer Says:

    It is awesome to see interest in keping deli’s alive. Here is a bit of deli history.
    In April 1957 Stanley Pancer and his father Moe opened Pancer’s Deli. They were partners. They gathered recipes from the old country of relatives long deceased. I was born that same opening week as my mother, Evelyn, went into labour while waitressing in her 9th month.
    Many of us, including me, worked there, but Stan, he lived there. He ate, slept, breathed and lived Deli. People would come from miles to eat and smooze with Stan. If he didn’t yell at you atleast once then he didn’t love you! And he yelled at everyone. It was the deli way. He won every deli contest and competition ever in Toronto history. He’s fed hockey stars from the days when the Leafs won Stanley cups, politicians, celebrities, etc. Our customers are the children and grandchildren of the original customers. Anywhere in the world today, if you meet a jew who was raised in Toronto, he knows of and has eaten at Pancer’s Deli.
    The Toronto Star once wrote an article on my dad called “I am 5 meats”. It should have been titled “I am Deli”. Because he was.
    I am Lorne’s silent partner charged by my dad before he died to make sure the legacy lives on. I definitley will !!
    Michael Pancer

  4. Dale Johnson Says:

    Moe’s sounds like it would be worth a trip to Toronto just to eat there! I love your site and glad you saved the tradition.

  5. Ben Johnson Says:

    No way am I letting Dale take a trip to Pancer’s Deli without me. She’d want to stay! At least if I am with her I can order several things to go and feed her all the way back to Georgia. Am looking forward to stopping in and ordering a Pastrami and a Vernors on my next trip to Toronto. Just thinking about it has made me hungry, but unfortunately I think I’d have to drive to Kansas City (2 1/2 hours from here) to come close to finding a Deli. Sad as it is, I have lived in Nebraska for 8 years and have never even heard of the existence of a real deli anywhere in the state of Nebraska. . . . Sign me up as a dues paying member of the Save The Deli club!

  6. Boyd McAdam Says:

    You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Pancer’s Deli! My wife, kids and I have been going for over 25 years and have had many a good meal at both locations. I remember Stanley fondly as a man whose bark was far worse than his bite. His tender side came across whenever anybody brought young children to the deli–”My next generation of customers!”, he would observe. He was a hard working man, at his post at the old location almost anytime of the day or night. Now when I walk into the new location and see Lorne working behind the counter, it’s like seeing the ghost of Stan.

    Congratulations on fifty years! I know the whole family has worked hard to keep the business going. Looking forward to many more good meals at your fine establishment.

  7. Lee Malin Says:

    “I AM 5 MEATS”…that Toronto Star article still hangs in my Mother’s Kitchen. Moe Pancer’s Deli has been a large part of my family even before my first visit in 1984. My Grandmother Leah Pancer Britt worked at the Toronto location and my mother Brenda Britt Malin managed a Florida store…No trip to Toronto was complete without Moe Pancer’s deli. I still remember Stanley Pancer strong and insistant that my brother Darren and I have Chiclets Instead of Coffee Crisp from the cash register display case. Darren and I would compete to eat the most pepperoni sticks. I always finished a close second…I can remember the first time I had BABY BEEF and TONGUE sooooooo good. You couldn’t go wrong with SALAMI & EGGS either…Wilf looks the same too! The Only thing better than the food was the atmosphere, Jewish or Not…Hungry or Not…Moe Pancer’s Deli will always put a smile on your face.

  8. Colten Pancer Says:

    Wow it’s been forever since ive tasted “true” Deli in awhile. Its a shame I am rarely in Toronto at all. But I know a few friends that go there after school for their meals. I hope the Deli continues its great success.

  9. Kurabiye tarifleri Says:

    Very nice.

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