Save the Deli

Pancer’s Deli Sold

(Photo courtesy of

I’ve heard rumours of this for a while, but now it seems to be confirmed. This is not how I wanted to end my year.

Toronto’s Moe Pancer’s Delicatessen has been sold. Lorne Pancer (grandson of Moe) and his sister have sold the deli, the recipes, and the name to longtime customer Jerry Gould, and his son, Lenny, reports the National Post:

“I feel great,” says Lorne Pancer, co-owner since 1999. “I’m going to take a long vacation.”

Jerry Gould, who missed our appointed meeting time Tuesday, tells me later over the telephone that he has big plans for the place.

“My dad hooked me up and bought me this business,” he says. “I’m absolutely not changing anything with the pastrami or corned beef. I spent a good amount of money for the recipes.” (A story on the wall notes that, for the pastrami, the beef briskets are pickled 5-7 days in a brine that contains pickling spices, garlic and salt, then washed off and cooked two hours in a huge kettle in water, onions and garlic, then baked on a tray with “specific spices.”)

Then Mr. Gould starts listing plans for change.

“I want to feed the next generation,” he says. (The crowd around me includes seniors and young families). “I am going to change a little bit of the décor. I am going to do a weekend breakfast. Do a sports night there. Maybe chicken wings. Put a couple of flat screen TVs and get a bit of a sports thing there.

“Unfortunately there are a lot of old school ways there. The cash area is going to be ripped out and a whole new counter put in for efficiency. The smoked meat could be better. Maybe I can go to Montreal and find a proper smoked meat distributor.”

Lorne Pancer was the first deli man to let me see into the business, and I love him dearly. To him I have nothing but congratulations. Lorne, you’ll be missed bud. Not just by me and my family, but by all Toronto deli lovers.

And to Mr Gould, I say this: You’ve inherited more than a property, you’ve bought a legacy. With that comes responsibility to uphold the traditions. Traditions that go beyond the recipes for corned beef and pastrami. It’s the staff (Wilf, Mario, Lori, etc…), the feel, the sound, the smell, and the atmosphere. It’s the way you treat customers and the way you cultivate those traditions. Toronto’s filled with places to get chicken wings and watch shitty hockey on LCD TVs. What it lacks are tested and loved Jewish delis like Moe Pancer’s. Lost sight of that and we’ll all lose. Keep it in mind, and keep it preserved, and the future will be bright indeed.

17 Responses to “Pancer’s Deli Sold”

  1. Al Hunter Says:

    Wait and see I guess.
    Meanwhile I’ll continue to get my smoked meat from Wolfies just up the street.

  2. Zee Says:

    I feel like I’m gonna cry. I’ve been going there (and to Red Pancer’s) for 50 years.

    I’m lucky they’re only a five minute walk from my house but once they get a big screen TV, they might as well move to Hamilton :-(

  3. goldie Says:

    been going there all my life, (and Red’s when it was at the Golden Mile), and have been dreading this day. Not looking forward to the new sports bar theme but we will see, I will try to keep an open mind.
    Good luck with your future Lorne, thanks for keeping it going for as long as you have.

  4. Mr. Shwartz Says:

    Oy … vat a shame…but you know…it reminds me ov a story

    Jew was walking on Regent Street in London and stopped in to a posh gourmet food shop. An impressive salesperson in morning coat with tails approached him and politely asked, “May I help you, Sir?”

    “Yes,” replied the customer, “I would like to buy a pound of lox.”

    “No. No,” responded the dignified salesperson, “You mean smoked salmon.”

    “Okay, a pound of smoked salmon.”

    “Anything else?”

    “Yes, a dozen blintzes.”

    “No. No. You mean crepes.”

    “Okay, a dozen crepes.”

    “Anything else?”

    “Yes. A pound of chopped liver.”

    “No. No. You mean pate.”

    “Okay,” said the Jewish patron, “A pound of pate. And,” he added, “I’d like you to deliver this to my house next Saturday.”

    “Look,” retorted the indignant salesperson, “We don’t schlep on Shabbos.”

  5. Allan Says:

    …big screen tv s wing night,,,,,?….oy….might as well bring in the dancing girls…..pancer s dancer s….lol…

  6. The Fuzz Says:

    Pancers was and is my favourite Toronto deli. I have so many memories of dining there and eating their delicately sliced turkey, often in a turkey-salami combo sandwich sliced by the master, Wolf. Later, I fell in love with the baby beef. Every time I would leave Toronto and come back, it was usually my meal on the way to the airport. I am trying to keep an open mind with this, but:

    1) Lorne Panzer is a king among men. This is a true deli man if there ever was one. We will miss you indeed bud. Enjoy your retirement. It’s well earned.

    2) I once visited a newly opening deli in Calgary. They told me they wanted to put in flat screen TVs and do a wing night. I warned them against it. The deli lasted two months before shutting down. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    3) Please don’t run this landmark into the ground.

  7. Nate Salter Says:

    As one who lived in the Bathurst-Wilson area from 55 to 69 I often dined at Pancers atYork Downs and at times at the new location. However in later years my deli of choice has been Wolfies. It embodies all what the good old fashioned Toronto deli’s were all about, rickety tables, funny chairs, Coca Cola chazzerai all over the joint, but with belly busting sandwiches to die for. There are a lot of my generation around who go to a deli, not to watch a hockey game, but to get our fix of corned beef and pastrami. a nice bowl of chicken soup with a matzoh ball, a piece of kishka, a knish, that is what deli is all about. Chicken wings, best you feed them to the goyem. Deli is Jewish Soul food and I will let you in on another secret, my kids now in their 30′s who were raised on the tantalising flavours of deli are now bringing their own children to share the culinary experience with their Zaidy and they love it

  8. Howard Says:

    I grew up on York Downs Drive, 2 blocks from the original Moe Pancer’s. That deli holds many memories for me. But now it is the sight where I celebrate my father’s Yahrtzeit. I have made it a custom to have lunch at Pancer’s with my uncle and my two sons to celebrate my father’s memory. Dad was an old friend of Stan Pancer who ran the deli from way back in the fifties. All of blessed memory!

  9. Jason Says:

    Hi All

    As a Jewish deli lover who has enjoyed pancer’s for years, I am sad to see a change of ownership. However, change is inevitable. I wish the Pancer family a well deserved rest and the new owners much success . I also agree that while change is inevitable , we must embrace our traditions and culture. Don’t mess with what works !!

    For all of you talking about meat at Wolfies, please note that unlike Pancer’s pastrami, they Do not create their own meat from scratch, they bring their meat in from lester’s. No comparison to pancer’s pastrami.

    As far ad I know, only Katz, caplansky, and centre street make their own Jewish style meat ( although I think Katz and centre are more Montreal styles)

    Now I have to go have a nosh!!

  10. steve rochester Says:

    Chicken wings, flat screen tv, and even the Leafs can’t overpower authentic Toronto deli. Let the new guy try to bring in some new customers. The place is not very busy when I stop in on my many visits to toronto. I agree that the smoked meat needs an upgrade. Lots of new deli customers are focused on smoked meat with the publicity that Caplansky and Goldin have generated. This should only help the new guy make a go of it in today’s business environment. I would love to hear Zane’s comments on this news.

  11. moncler men shoes Says:

    Thought I’d remark and say cool theme, did you make it for yourself? It looks fantastic!

  12. Zdzigod Says:

    hey there, your site is wonderful. We do appreciate your operate

  13. Dobielut Says:

    What an unique content, always keep creating sweetheart

  14. B¹s³aw Says:

    Significant other, this great site will be fabolous, i just find it irresistible

  15. josh Says:

    I read today that Mr Pancer is opening a deli in Vaughan. He says his non compete only goes to the 407. This is not fair to Lenny Gould who I am sure paid big value to buy the restaurant and the good will. I hope the new restaurant Pancer is starting fails.

  16. Sam Says:

    I will stay at Pancers on Bathurst with the Gould family never could trust Lorne

  17. Frank Housron Says:

    It’s sad to see it close but Pancer’s Deli in Vaughan will carry on with the same care that Stan built the Pancer name on.

    Drop by and see us at Dufferin & Major Mac in Vaughan.

    You won’t be disappointed.

Leave a Reply

E-mail It