Back from my honeymoon and cleaning out the inbox. It’s not the best way to start my new married life as a deli lover, but I did come across some sad and important news relating to the final days of Nate’s deli in Ottawa. I’ll let the Ottawa Citizen take up the rest of the story:
Nate’s Deli closes its doors after half a century
By Jennifer Green, The Ottawa Citizen May 25, 2010
OTTAWA — As the fluorescent lights went dim and the lineups finally diminished, the staff at Nate’s Deli on Rideau had nothing left in them but sore feet and sighs. The Ottawa landmark had closed for good on its 50th anniversary.
“We made it,” said Tony Paolino, leaning on the counter where he has sliced and served smoked meat since 1979. “These last few weeks have been crazy.”
Ever since word got around that Dave Smith was hanging up
his apron, customers have been streaming into 316 Rideau St., getting that last smoked meat, wishing the staff well.
Etna Greening — her intravenous line tucked into her purse beside her — was enjoying a final Reuben at 7:40 p.m., just 20 minutes before closing. Against her doctors’ advice, she left the hospital for one last sandwich at Nate’s. “It’s so damn good.”
Dave Smith, in a white T-shirt, apron, and his Order of Canada pin, leaned back, exhausted, as Maureen and Emile Arial made their way out. They had dated at the deli and now, years later, they had to come back to say goodbye for one last dinner. Of course, Smith ever the host, gave them both great hugs.
As waiter Blake Robertson slid her order in front of one woman, she said to him: “It’s so sad. Where will I get my smoked meat?”
“Sad! I’m unemployed,” he replied with a laugh. “I got a bigger problem. Where am I going to get my rent money?”
Robertson had worked at the place on and off since he was 13 or 14, starting by washing dishes.
Now, at 52, he’s going to take a few weeks off, drive around in his new convertible, and then look for work.
Not everyone lasted that long. One guest book entry recalled: “I was an employee in 1975. Maybe one week.”
Smith said younger wait staff often struggled. “It was hard for them to understand the menu. The knishes and the latkes. They didn’t know what they were.”
CHECK OUT THE PHOTO GALLERY FROM NATE’S FINAL DAYS HERE
photo credit: Christopher Pike
So long Nate’s. You’ll be missed dearly.