WESTWOOD, Calif. (KTLA) — It’s been a Westside staple for decades, but soon Junior’s Deli will be closing its doors.
Longtime employes were told on Wednesday that the deli would close by the end of the year. A rent hike is to blame, along with slumping business.
Brothers David and John Saul co-own the business, which was started by their father, Marvin, back in 1959.
Marvin opened the delicatessen on Pico Boulevard after a failed stint as a uranium miner in Utah. Junior was his nickname as a child.
Celebrities including Bruce Willis and Hank Azria were known to patronize the restaurant.
And Mel Brooks purportedly wrote parts of his film comedy “History of the World Part 1″ in the dining room.
The deli moved from Pico to its current location on Westwood Boulevard in 1967. The 11,000-square-foot space also includes a bakery and a catering business.
Each year from 1971 on, Marvin Saul worked out the rental agreement with Beverly Hills-based landlord Four Corner Investments.
But just over a year ago, he died at 82. And this year, the negotiations broke down over a proposed rise in the rent, David Saul said.
He says that the company is not willing to budge on the rent. KTLA contacted Four Corner Investments, but did not get a response.
Business has also been tough in recent years, according to the brothers. In the early 2000s, Junior’s pulled in more than $7 million a year in revenue.
But sales have slumped 20 percent over the last three years, and at the same time, food prices have surged.
The deli’s 95 employees say they’re shocked and saddened by the news of the closure. Many have been working at Junior’s for decades.
“We’ve been for a long time together. It’s like a family,” said a teary Jose Moreno, who has worked at the deli for 32 years.
The brothers say they hope to eventually be able to re-open the deli in a different location.