NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fans of New York City’s famous Carnegie Deli are crying in their corned beef.
After decades of serving up sky-high sandwiches, the iconic deli announced Friday it will close its doors for good at the end of the year.
President and owner Marian Harper reportedly broke down in tears when she told her 60 employees that the eatery at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 55th Street will serve up its last pastrami on rye and other giant sandwiches on Dec. 31.
“As you all know, the restaurant business is one of the hardest jobs in New York City,” Harper wrote. “At this stage of my life, the early morning to late night days have taken a toll, along with my sleepless nights and grueling hours that come with operating a restaurant business in Manhattan. I’m very sad to close Carnegie Deli New York at 854 Seventh Ave., but I’ve reached a time in my life when I need to take a step back.”
The deli has been in the Harper family for 40 years.
Harper’s father purchased the eatery from the original owners in 1976.
The company said Harper “will dedicate and focus her time on licensing the iconic Carnegie Deli brand and sell Carnegie Deli’s world-famous products for wholesale distribution…to keep the Carnegie legacy alive.”
“It was a very somber moment,” manager John Gentile said. “It’s a very emotional time for a lot of people.”
Gentile just started the gig in February, but said he experienced the highlight of his adult life when he met his idol, former Knick Bernand King, there.
Employee Desmarine Redwood said hearing the news brought tears to her eyes.
“I love working here,” Redwood said. “I dream about this place every night.”
In her 26 years as a waitress at the deli, Redwood said she’s served many big names, including actor Denzel Washington, James Brown and former President Bill Clinton, but it’s the customers, food and Carnegie family that she’ll miss the most.
Longtime customer Steve Sackett said he’s disappointed.
“I’ve been coming here on and off since the 1980s,” he said. “You can’t get corned beef sandwiches like this anywhere else.”
“It’s a sad time for New York,” another customer told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
The Lapin family from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, said they make what they call a “pilgrimage” to Carnegie every year.
“We’ll be sitting shiva at the table,” Kevin Lapin said after hearing the news.
The deli has been serving towering tummy pleasers like the “Woody Allen” since first opening its doors in 1937, but it hasn’t always been smooth operating, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.
The deli was forced to close for 10 months in April 2015 after Con Edison crews found it had been improperly siphoning natural gas for close to six years. At the time, Harper told CBS2 she didn’t know about the illegal tapping and paid Con Ed more than $40,000 for the gas.
Fans will still be able to get their favorite deli eats at the company’s other locations, including Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Deli Las Vegas at the Mirage hotel and casino, Carnegie Deli at The Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and annually at the US Open tennis tournament in Queens.
The deli also ships some products nationwide through its website.