I’ve cited the impending closure of Miami’s Rascal House as one of the prime examples of why we need to Save the Deli. For over fifty years the Rascal House has been the premiere Jewish delicatessen in all of Florida, a watering hole for the migratory populations of elderly Jews who swoop down each winter in search of warmth and an early dinner. If you don’t know about the Rascal House, or what is happening to it, have a look at this post from last April, which I wrote shortly after visiting Miami.
The main story was this: In 1996, the Rascal House was purchased by Jerry’s Famous Deli Inc, a chain of corporate delicatessens from California. They ran it (some say into the ground), until last year, when it was announced that the Rascal House would be torn down to create the Epicure Life condominium complex. At the time, Miami’s real estate market was hot hot hot, with massive condominium towers sprouting skyward on all sides of Rascal House’s location in Sunny Isles. The projects were often larger than twenty or thirty stories and held the name of developers like Donald Trump. In reality, this was the luxury tip of the Florida real estate bubble, and when the sub-prime mess finally burst that puppy, all those half finished condos became a huge liability.
I was wondering over the past few months just what would happen with the Rascal House and Jerry’s plans. Construction had yet to begin on Epicure Life, and now the financing or demand appeared to have disappeared. Was there the chance that Jerry’s would back away, preserving the cash generating Rascal House for another few years, or at least until the market returned?
It seems that it hasn’t. In an article appearing in the Miami Herald just over a week ago, the owner’s of Jerry’s (Ike and Jason Starkman) have now laid out their new plans. The condominium will be put on hold, but the wrecking ball will still come for Rascal House, which is to be replaced by a large Epicure Market, the gourmet shopping emporium also owned by Jerry’s.
“Starkman said the company hopes to decide in the next few months on a plan for Sunny Isles. It’s likely to include closing down Rascal House and conducting a massive gut-rehab to convert it into an Epicure Market.”
So is there a reason to hope?
I’d like to think so. Worsening economic conditions are now the only thing that will give the Rascal House reprieve. It is possible for Jerry’s to incorporate an Epicure market into the Rascal House space (which is massive), while still preserving the deli. If you haven’t signed my petition, please do it now, and if you want to contact Jerry’s, do so here.
This is what we’re here for. This is why you’ve come to this site and why you have returned. Don’t let the greatest deli in Florida fade into the sunset without a fight. We have to save the Rascal House!