Barbara P. Fernandez for The New York Times
I know, I know. Enough with the Rascal House already. It’s done, dead, finished. Toyt Fahrtik Gishtorbin.
But what can I do? This was THE deli of south Florida, and its death is pure tragedy. It’s been closed for three days, but I was sent this story in the New York Times from my publisher, and there was something inside that just ground my gears.
The red counter stools were empty. Wide plastic menus sold for $25 each. Platters once full of food cost $5.
The restaurant’s more famous items were priced like antiques. That large photo of Jackie Gleason, young, arms wide, smiling on Miami Beach; it cost $2,500, according to the tag. The restaurant’s interior signs with the Rascal logo ran too high for Mrs. Rothman’s budget at $5,000 each. She said she had hoped to pay $500.
Ken Joyce, 70, a law professor in Buffalo who always ordered the corned beef, said he was deciding whether to buy a board with a Damon Runyon quotation: “As I see it, there are two kinds of people in this world; people who love delis, and people you shouldn’t associate with.” It was $250, even though the “it” had fallen off.
So here we have this great institution, shut down by the extremely wealthy Starkman family of Jerry’s Famous Deli fame, because it was:
a) not profitable
b) not in line with their corporate vision
c) in a prime spot of land where they wanted a condo
Some sixty five or so staff are now out of work, but the Starkman’s have the nerve to auction off chunks of the restaurant for ridiculous prices. These are the same people who charge $10 for a glass of orange juice down in South Beach. Now, they’re selling off menus for $25!!!! Photos for $2500???
LIke the sign said “As I see it, there are two types of people in this world: people who love delis, and those you shouldn’t associate with.”
The Starkman’s bought Miami’s great delis and slowly bled them to death, selling off the real estate to developers or replacing them with Jerry’s Famous Deli (a deli in name only). So guess which type they are.