Save the Deli

Sunday is Rascal House’s last

Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House 1954-2008

And so this sunday it will come to be.

The Rascal House, arguably the most famous of all Florida’s numerous Jewish delicatessens, will go into the sunset after one final brunch. Friends who have been in the past weeks have said it’s deserted, and many thought it was already closed. I just called and spoke with the cashier, who, in her wisecracking, war-weary voice, told me that Sunday would be the final day of business. Then the sticky buns and buttery rugelach would go away, as would the towering corned beef sandwiches and platters of lox. In a few months a new Epicure market will open in its place, serving overpriced Jewish goods and exotic fruits from all over the world. Gone will be the soul, the taste, the schmaltz and the Tam, and I don’t think it will ever return to Miami Beach again. Wolfie Cohen’s empire, once encompassing Wolfie’s, Pumpernik’s, and Rascal House, is done.

It’s the end of an era, but at least I had the chance to taste it. Sad to see one of the great American delis dying, though it should renew us all with a sense of purpose as to what we’re here to save.

Alef Hasholem Rascal House.

Rest in Peace

27 Responses to “Sunday is Rascal House’s last”

  1. Hal Niedzviecki Says:

    sax, sorry to hear about this…it must be a very hard time for you. we will get together soon and rub our pastrami together. or something.

  2. julia s Says:

    We must, indeed, continue to SAVE THE DELI! I will miss you, Rascal House!!

  3. David Drumm Says:

    During my Tuesday – Easter Sunday visit to Florida I managed to get over to The Rascal House for my last time Saturday morning, March 22 2008. I had been down from my Philadelphia home previously 3 years ago Spring when I enjoyed a hot Pastrami Sandwich, potato salad, cole slaw and pickle. But my first memories in life were in 1958 when my Family frequented The Rascal House during our 3 week vacation to The Carib Motel adjacent to the newly built Thunderbird Hotel. At age 6 I vividly remember often enjoying pancakes seated on one of those red stools at the counter. I took a few pictures last Saturday as I did in 2005. I’m very sorry that The Rascal House will be closing on Sunday. For all of my life prior to my Dads passing in 2002 he too remembered The Rascal House. Farewell, old Friend ! from David in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  4. CPO Says:

    May its memory be as a blessing, and the indigestion be forgotten.

  5. Gary Says:

    No pilgrimmage from Montreal or New York was complete without a requisite trip (or two!) to the Rascal House. My first trip was in 1968! This restaurant embodied something we’ll rarely, if ever, find again: Great deli, a staggering large menu with something for everyone, and, most importantly, an environment for the family. The “yiddish-keit” of the place just oozed. So much fun, it was, to sit in a room with all the hustle and bustle.

    The failure to survive is purely a function of demographics. But I think that if someone with a little gumption ever chose to relocate and relaunch this concept, there would always be room for so great a place. Everything was “ungashtapt” – and I’ll miss it all terribly.

    Saddest of all – what it says about the things that are progressively being deleted from our lives – even if our memories survive. What will our children know as the modern age equivalent?


  6. Ernie Taylor Says:

    So that is when The Rascal House closed. I discovered that it had been closed on a recent trip to the area. A total heartbreaker for me. I lived in Miami Beach for a couple years in the early 1960′s, & one of the part time jobs I had was selling The Miami Herald just outside the door of The Rascal House, so I had the privilge of eating there every day.

    I returned many times since, and was last there in 2004. Had breakfast, which, of course was served with the usual baskets of bread and sweet rolls.

    Rest in peace Rascal House. You are sorely missed.

    PS Thanks for posting the picture here. I had many taken in 2004, lost them in a hard drive crash.

  7. Steve Newman Says:

    How sad to read about another Miami Beach institution closing its doors. I first experienced the Rascal House in 1973 and then, after I had kids, we always took them there whenever we were in the Miami area.

    A few years ago, we had an 8-hour layover at Miami International. So what did we do? We left the airport, rented a car for the few hours (for $100) and drove up to the Rascal House for lunch. It was a “never miss” location for us.

    Now it’s gone. And don’t let anyone tell you that Jerry’s Deli is just the same. There will never be another Rascal House. RIP.

    “You’ll be glad when you’re fed, you rascal, you!”

  8. Marc Benkoff Says:

    I started going to the Rascal House in 1976 with my family and will always remember the lines and how they broke them down by party size.

    I can still taste the cream cheese rolls they brought to the table and the HUGE stuffed cabbage I looked forward to on the flight down.

    If anyone know’s where or even IF any of the restaurant’s fixtures are, please drop me a line…

    R.I.P. My favorite deli ever…

  9. Save The Deli » Blog Archive » Hold the Schmaltz! (Rascal House the Final Hours) The Film Says:

    [...] been just over a year since the great Miami deli The Rascal House was closed down by greed, haste, and [...]

  10. sonia Says:

    I was an employe of the Rascal House…
    and I feel sad about the closing of the
    It was a king of the jewish deli in all
    over florida…..
    I have a beatiful memory from this
    place and no matter what I always
    keep in my heart the lovely and
    famous “Rascal House”…

  11. kevin griggs Says:

    Now that Wolfies Rascal House has closed I have NO reason to ever visit Miami again.
    What a shame, I like Miami.

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  15. Spitfire Says:

    Whoever is reasonable for closeting Rascal House, should Rot in Hell they are Culture Killers.

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  20. LS Says:

    where can I find a recipe for Rascal House rugelach? they were the best in the world!!

  21. Per Says:

    I’m sorry to hear that they closed the restaurants.
    I found it on my vacation in miami back in 1996.
    It was an american icon.


  22. Shabbat Surfing: Big Weekend For Jewish Films | The Blog at 16th and Q Says:

    [...] rise and say kaddish for the famous deli Wolfie’s Rascal House which will close its doors this weekend, and with them the last of Miami’s Jewish diners [...]

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