A self-described former dishwasher from New York City’s Carnegie Deli is mounting a grassroots effort to keep the landmark open after owner Marion Levine announced she’s tired of the restaurant business and is calling it quits.
Samuel Mussovic told the New York Daily News that he’s holding a rally Monday afternoon at the shrine to pastrami to raise money for a takeover. He cited a target of $5 million, though the 80-year-old restaurant is likely worth considerably more. Mussovic also indicated that he will draft a petition to keep the popular tourist destination in business.
Levine told her staff this weekend that she’s not willing to maintain operations after December, citing sleepless nights and long, aggravating workdays. The restaurant has been a center of controversy in recent years. Con Edison, New York’s power utility, shut the restaurant for 10 months after discovering the place had been stealing gas, and back-charged the establishment some $40,000.
Levine went through a bitter, highly publicized divorce after learning her husband and business partner, Sandy Levine, had allegedly been conducting an affair with one of Carnegie’s waitresses.
The Levines had been sued by servers for underpaying wages.
The Carnegie is an institution in New York, located around the corner from Carnegie Hall and a short walk north from the tourist destinations of Times Square and Rockefeller Center. It is known as the place to take guests from out of town who want a towering sandwich served by grumpy servers in a setting that could be a retiree’s poorly preserved rumpus room.
Mussovic told the Daily News that he formerly worked at the Carnegie, though that assertion was not confirmed. The deli reportedly employs a staff of 60 people.