Save the Deli

London’s Bloom’s is finished…bollocks!

Well, if this isn’t the worst week on Save the Deli, I don’t know what is. First I write about Ottawa’s Nate’s closing. Then about Joan and Ed’s. But what comes next is surely the worst…

Our UK correspondent, Anthony Silverbrow, sent me a note this morning, informing me that London’s flagship kosher delicatessen, Bloom’s, has closed down. This is an immense tragedy for salt beef lovers. Silverbrow pointed me to an article in London’s Jewish Chronicle, which confirmed the end of Bloom’s:

Bloom’s restaurant closes in Golders Green

By Robyn Rosen, June 10, 2010

Bloom’s restaurant in Golders Green has gone into liquidation.

It has been closed since Sunday and a notice on the door asks creditors to contact insolvency firm David Rubin and Partners. A creditors’ meeting is being held on June 25.

The iconic Bloom’s restaurant in Whitechapel opened in 1920 and closed in 1996. The Golders Green branch opened in 1965 and was renovated in 2007. An Edgware outlet launched in 2007 lasted only a year.

A Bloom’s waiter, who asked not to be named, said he had not been paid for six weeks – and some colleagues had gone unpaid for longer. “I turned up on Sunday and talked to the manager who said it had closed down. Some staff had refused to work because they weren’t being paid so they had to shut. I just had to go home after that.”

Rabbi Jeremy Conway of the London Beth Din kashrut division said: “Bloom’s has flown the flag for kosher restaurants for the best part of a century. We are saddened to learn of its demise.However, we must see this sad news in the context of the constant growth of the kosher restaurant scene in London. There are now some 15 kosher establishments lining the block for so long dominated by the Bloom’s emblem. The ever-increasing number and variety of kosher restaurants is exciting and testimony to the vitality of Jewish life in London.”

Jonathan Tapper, the last link with the Bloom family, said the closure was “very sad and the end of an era. But it’s nothing to do with the family since the business was sold. It’s a shame that the name could not continue.”

For most of the 90 years, Bloom’s was the best known kosher delicatessen in London, and likely outside North America. It began in the hardscrabble east end, on Whitechappel St, center of the garment workers, and the area where London’s Jewish immigrant population settled in the same way they did in New York’s lower east side. Run by Morris and Rebecca Bloom, Lithuanian immigrants, it was a gathering spot for housewives, boxers, bookies, dockworkers, garmentos, gangsters, and others craving hand carved salt beef sandwiches. Yet its fame reached beyond the community, introducing deli to Brits of all creeds and classes, and making salt beef a nationally recognized institution. Celebrities and royals rubbed elbows with rabbis and cockney street toughs. Its fame was on par with Katz’s, and it was renowned for having the rudest waiters in all London.

Much of the East End was heavily damaged during the Nazi Blitz, and many Jewish families moved up and out to the city’s north end in the decades following the war. The suburb of Golder’s Green became London’s New Zion, with a high street boasting delicatessens, bakeries, and other smart shops, close to row houses with proper gardens. Bloom’s opened an outpost here in 1960, though the original Whitechappel location survived until a kosher inspection scandal forced it to close in 1996 (it’s now a Burger King).

I first visited Bloom’s back in the fall of 2002, with my parents, and my mom’s elderly aunt Betty, who is still kicking and kvetching in her 90′s. It was hardly the best deli meal I hate, and the waiters were indeed as rude as their reputation, but it was an iconic institution nonetheless. But things were sliding. Customers were aging and dying off. The food had been outsourced, and the salt beef wasn’t what it once was. In 2007, when I visited it last, the family had opened another outlet in Edgeware, the next suburb up the line, but it didn’t last too long. They renovated the Golder’s Green store, made it more funky, but it was just a change of window dressing.

And so Bloom’s passes like so many others into the night. Could it have been saved? Perhaps. The deli business is a game of long term strategy, and somewhere along the line, the owners made some crucially wrong moves. The focus shifted away from the food and the tradition. Quality decreased for one reason or another. Or perhaps there just wasn’t room anymore for London’s oldest Jewish delicatessen.

Either way, we hang our heads in shame, and mourn its loss.


27 Responses to “London’s Bloom’s is finished…bollocks!”

  1. Mark Says:

    My wife and I ate at Blooms in 1979 while on our honeymoon in London….how sad!

  2. aalevy Says:

    My wife and I ate their in 1965. I enjoyed it at that time. We returned many years later only to be disappointed in that it had closed in White Chapel. I am very sad to hear that it has now closed completely in Golder’s Green. A real loss to history.

  3. Stu Shiffman Says:

    How sad — I ate at the Whitechapel location in the 1970s after a study abroad trip in Israel and while not phenomenal was still a lovely thing after a summer of falafel and hummus.

    Later during that trip in London, I was enjoying the non-Jewish joint at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and overheard a British lady complaining that no one made tscholent or tsimmes anymore.

  4. Simon Albury Says:

    Blooms really died in 2007 when new management took over and the place was redecorated. The service was dire and the cooking had declined. Below are links to a photo to Bloom’s most famous waiter, Leon, and the old Blooms and the Old Blooms Facebook page.

  5. Phil Says:

    As a child living in London Blooms was a treat I cherished. What a shame.

  6. ari clark Says:

    Having left England for The USA in 2000 I have always promised my american wife that we would visit Blooms on a trip to the UK . I have fond memories of living in Tower hamlets and making my way to Blooms each day for lunch . My mouth still waters when i think of the salt beef. I suppose it’s just another piece of our Jewish heritage that has slipped by us . Just look at Brick Lane how that has become a Muslim Enclave . Sad days Ari

  7. Mr Jeremy Haines Says:

    Hi used to go to WhiteChapel Blooms in late 1980s and also went the Goldersgreen Blooms also i loved the food everthing about Blooms and i knew Jonathan Tapper from the Golders Green Blooms

  8. amy Says:

    I always knew my grandfather had been born in London and came to the States when he was 4.
    After traveling aorund England and Europe for a while,I ended up living in London.And then I got a copy of his birth certificate and went to see if I could find where his family was living when he was born.
    Imagine how surprised a nice jewish maidelah from Queens County N.Y. was to realize that where Grandpa Ben was born at 91 Whitechapel High Street was right next door to Bloom’s!
    And I still have the postcard of it I sent to my parents,with a little arrow drawn in the corner ,pointing to grandpa’s house!
    But N.Y. corned beef(salt beef) was and is way better than theirs!!!!!!!!!

  9. Charles S.P. Jenkins Says:

    I was born in Whitechapel in 1943 and went to the Whitechapel Road branch many, many times. I was sad when this shop closed and now I am even sadder to learn that the Golders Green has gone. This is a NATIONAL tragedy and heartbreaking for us who looked forward to noshing at the establishment whenever we came to London. And please tell Amy that the SALT BEEF at the original Bloom was wonderful and could have stood up to anything in New York City – Brooklyn, Queens or in Manhattan!

  10. Geraldine Markel Says:

    I’m trying to locate anyone in the family of original owners. My grandmother’s name was Cissie Kersh Handleman. there was a Cyril Kersh who was a newspaper person who is deceased and a Gerald Kersh, an author, also deceased. Any tips on how to locate someone in the family?
    Thank you and best regards, Geri

  11. Mark Merrian Says:

    The original Blooms was not on Whitechapel Road. It was on the corner of Wentworth Street and Brick Lane. The iron sign hanging on the south east corner said “Buy Blooms Best Beef”. Only one large letter B was used for all the alliterative words .I first saw this sign in 1930. I have lived in America for 71 years but I will never forget Blooms.

  12. Mark Merrian Says:

    The orignal Blooms was not on Whitechapel Road. It was on the south east corner of Wentworth Street and Brick Lane. I first saw the iron sign reading “Buy Blooms Best Beef” in 1930. Only one large letter B was used in front of these four alliterative words. I have lived in America for 71 years but I will never forget Blooms

  13. Joe Says:

    Does anyone know what happened to Leon?

  14. Steve Says:

    I recall every trip to London in the 80′s and 90′s our first lunch was always a trip to Blooms, and see our waiter Lou, who’s son lived in Washington DC.
    I do miss those great lunches…

  15. Ken Reeves Says:

    For Geraldine Markel who wanted any news of
    Bloom famliy.
    The Bloom I knew was ‘Dickie’ Bloom, nephew of Gerald & Cryil Kersh. Dickie Bloom’s Mum & Dad ran Blooms Deli in Soho, His mother was sister of Gerrald and Cryil Kersh.
    Dickie and I were RAF National Service men in the 49/50′s and very close friends. The last I heard from Dickie was a letter in the mid 50′s saying he was in Canada working as an ad. agency Copywriter.

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  17. Mr Jeremy Haines Says:

    Hi i remeber going to white chapel Blooms in the 80s and talking to a waiter who was from Ashford in kent and live in the Medway Towns at the time and Ashford was near where i lived

  18. Dennis W- Says:

    I left London 1976 but in the 60s i always enjoyed eating salt beef sandwiches at Blooms i wanted to take my girlfriend there the last time we were in England and i was so sad not to find Blooms any more

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  21. Vertimu biuras siauliuose Says:

    It was good place to eat. Its a pitty that it closed. People lost a good place to eat.

  22. Tina Parrish Says:

    My dad was head chef at the original blooms, when he was diagnosed with cancer they sacked him on the spot

  23. Dr William H Hamilton Says:

    I worked in the Dental Surgery above Blooms Whitechapel in 1963. Enjoyed many a salt beef sandwich for lunch in that time.Terrific food and wonderful East end chutzpah for a fresh young dentist freshly arrived in the great City of London.Wonderful memories for a76 year old gentile.By the way I still enjoy kosher food.

  24. Len Says:

    For some reason I felt the need to see if Blooms was still around. I live on Long Island, New York so I wasn’t going to be dropping in. My first visit was in October 1972. Hearing Jews speaking English so beautifully was a shock for a kid from Brooklyn. In 1979 I took my then 6 year old to Blooms. He had been curches to death because of our schedule. For him, Blooms was seltzer in the dessert. I’m married to a girl from Birmingham but nothing can be London. The. question is can London be London without Blooms? Blooms, Z”L.

  25. pamela Says:

    As a very small child in the mid 1950s, I went to Petticoat Lane every Sunday. I remember eating chicken noodle soup in a place with marble counters and pillars..that’s my memory anyway. I imagined it to be Blooms. Does anyone remember the interior from that decade?

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    I confident do really like a wonderful go to to the dentist, which is why I often pick the greatest 1 I can. It can make a big difference for me, hope you also find one you appreciate!

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