Guest Post by Mara Zebest
In a recent Los Angeles Times article on the struggle of the Delicatessen business, it is interesting that all the cities listing Deli businesses in a slump are located in Democratic run states… but Liberal media wants to blame the slump on something else… like more restaurant choices… as if competition has been a problem in the past?
A recent Forbes 2013 top ten miserable city list mentioned in a Breitbart article included cities confined to the states of Michigan, Illinois, California, and New York. The Forbes 2013 most miserable city list did not go unnoticed by Rush Limbaugh who stated the following conclusion on Friday’s February 22, 2013 show:
There is something that all ten of these places have in common. Every one of them not only is run by liberal Democrats, but has been run by liberal Democrats as far back as anybody can see with one exception. That would be New York and Mayor Giuliani. But in addition to all of them being run by liberal Democrats, they have all featured unions with unchecked power. So the combination of liberal Democrats and unions is a harbinger, if you will.
On that note, buried in the LA Times article below is the fact that at least one Deli owner is struggling with the cost of his unionized workers and the already skyrocketing costs of healthcare. The LA Times keeps referring to the rising costs of food materials and then shifts the blame on the weather, cause it’s easier to blame global warming than question why gas has more than doubled since Obama has taken over as dictator. Guess LA Times can’t even make the connection to another report at their own paper—another LA Times article published today—on Democrat-run California demanding a special blend and and highly taxed gasoline mix as a contributing factor.
LATimes report on Jewish delis in a pickle:
In New York, Jewish delis, which once numbered in the thousands, now total a few dozen. L.A. landmarks are also closed or struggling. Food prices, more restaurant choices are partly to blame. […]
Faced with aging clientele and a difficult economy, Ashkenaz Delicatessen in Chicago went dark in November and was replaced by a seafood joint called Da Lobsta. In Manhattan, high rent and the recession led to the closure of 75-year-old Stage Deli.
“People don’t open up new delis anymore because it’s very, very difficult to do,” said Marian Levine, owner of Stage’s longtime rival, Carnegie Deli in Manhattan.
In the first half of the 20th century, several thousand Jewish delis were operating in New York. But as Jewish immigration to the East Coast ebbed after World War II and younger generations splintered into the suburbs, the number has shrunk to a few dozen.
Demographic shifts in Los Angeles in the last few decades — along with the arrival of brands such as Langer’s in MacArthur Park, Canter’s on Fairfax and the Brent’s chain — sparked hope of a Jewish deli revival in the Southland.
Lately, however, the region has suffered the same troubles bedeviling delis in the east.
Jerry’s Famous Deli closed its Costa Mesa branch this spring and laid off dozens of employees. After years spent dishing up pickle-flanked masses of pastrami to the likes of Bruce Willis and Mel Brooks, Junior’s closed following a rental spat with its landlord.
“There’s nothing that can bring back the centrality of the deli in either Jewish life or American life,” said Ted Merwin, an expert on Jewish culture and a professor at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. “There’s no way they’re going to survive in the numbers they once did.”
Merwin thinks Los Angeles’ thriving ethnic food scene is partly to blame.
“It used to be that delis had a very loyal customer base who would come in every day,” he said. “But now, with the restaurant industry in L.A. exploding with thousands and thousands of new options, why would they?”
Jewish delis are also part of a restaurant sector that has struggled overall since the recession. Sales at family sit-down restaurants stagnated between 2007 and 2011 and grew a stingy 0.5% last year, according to research firm Mintel.
The stress showed at Junior’s, where revenue slumped 20% over the last three years as food costs surged, the result of unpredictable weather affecting crops and animal feed. Rents are also rising, especially in urban centers, making property difficult to afford for all but the largest chain delis.
Art’s Deli owner Harold Ginsburg, 52, said he’s had to cut back on non-food items at the Studio City store: having fewer employees on call, trimming insurance costs and sending delivery cars to the cheapest gas stations.
At Langer’s, owner Norm Langer jacked up menu prices 4% in March. But the increase “wasn’t enough to compensate for the rising cost of food,” which he said has soared as much as 9% over the last 18 months.
Fish prices have “gone crazy,” said Langer, whose father launched the business 65 years ago. The deli hasn’t sold barbecued cod in five years, when the seafood went from being a third cheaper than lox to a third more expensive and supply became unpredictable.
Beef prices, inflated by the severe summer drought and mass exports to Japan, aren’t helping. Neither are skyrocketing premiums for medical benefits for the eatery’s unionized workers, Langer said.
And with diners still wary after the downturn, even a pastrami sandwich as revered as his struggles when it costs more than $20 a person after a beverage, a side dish, tax and tip, Langer said.