Save A Deli Now.
An urgent call to the Save the Deli faithful. The time has come to put down your sandwich and take up action! A treasured deli is on its last legs, and our support is needed to save it. I am talking about the Rascal House of Sunny Isles, Florida…a southern migratory pilgrimage for any wintering deli devotee.
Many of you were brought there by bubbies, zaidies or parents, though some could have gone as grownups. My family was never one for Florida, I went when I was six and then just last month. But I never forgot the place, with its towering baskets of danish, worn rec room wood panelling, and devilish little rascals scattered throughout. Nowhere in Florida equals this place, though sadly the writing is on the wall.
A few years ago Rascal House was sold to Jerry’s Famous Deli, a chain in California that began in Beverly Hills. Jerry’s owner, Ike Starkman, and his son Jason, also purchased several other delicatessens in Florida and California, though Rascal House was the meat in the knish. After a failed attempt to open a second location in Boca Raton, Jerry’s concentrated on its other businesses, including the massive Jerry’s Famous Deli in South Beach, Miami, and the gourmet shop Epicure.
In December the word was out that Rascal House will be torn down to make way for (you know it’s coming…) condos. Sunny Isles is rife with massive condo towers stretching as far as the eye can see. They are huge, extravagant, and generally hideous. The place looks like Dubai. Once the bulldozers tear through the deli counters and rubble strewn little rascals, a fifteen story building will go in its place, to have a Jerry’s Famous Deli and Epicure downstairs.
A Shonda! That’s what this is! A complete and utter shame. Rascal House is the last of its kind in Florida. Most other delis there are bagel shops. And while the management has let the place slide considerably (the bread baskets aren’t as overflowing, the breakfast danish has been cut back, the soup is watered down…) it is not impossible to salvage. A little love and kitchen talent and the Rascal House could get back on top. Sadly, I think this isn’t in the interest of Jerry’s, who have slowly choked it to death. The lineups that once snaked around the block are long gone. Even though it won’t close for a year or so, the death will be neither swift, nor painless.
But all is not lost. We can try to save the Rascal House from destruction. Here’s why:
-the name carries weight and history, far more than Jerry’s does. If the condos go up (which is a legitimate and understandable business deal on the part of Mr. Starkman), why not rebuild the rascal house, booth by booth, downstairs, instead of Jerry’s?
-the Miami condo market is emitting very loud popping sounds, and overdevelopment looks to be leading towards a down-cycle. Perhaps Mr. Starkman can hold off on the project until the market is certain, while reworking a model for how the Rascal House and their development can survive and coexist.
Below is a petition demanding these things. Sign it. Send it. Pass it to every corned beef loving deli fiend you know. We aren’t beat yet. May we all meet in ten years for some danish, coffee, and salami n’ eggs at the Rascal House!