A restaurant that has been an institution in the Bronx for 60 years was suddenly forced to close right before Thanksgiving.
Loeser’s Deli, located at 214 W. 231st Street in Riverdale, had its doors shuttered by the NYC Department of Buildings on Thursday, November 14, when it said an Ansul fire system valve was in the wrong place.
“I’m 50 and in my lifetime I’ve never seen the deli closed on Thanksgiving,” said Pam Loeser Halpern, one of the owners.
According to Abigail Kunitz, a spokesman for the DOB, the department received a complaint of ‘Gas piping being installed in deli without Permits’ at Bunny Deli II, 212 W. 231 Street, which is located in the same commercial building as Loeser’s.
Several violations were found at both businesses.
“Safety is always our top priority,” Kunitz said. “Our inspectors found illegal, unpermitted and potentially dangerous gas work at this location, which poses a fire hazard to the building occupants and their neighbors.
“We are in contact with the businesses owners, and are providing them with guidance on the permitting and repair process to legalize the gas plumbing system and restore gas service,” he said.
Con Edison shut off the gas to the Loeser’s and a couple days later, the NYC Department of Health came by and completely shut down the deli because it lacked hot water.
Loeser Halpern said this came as a total shock. She recalled how the deli passed FDNY inspection every year, so safety violations never crossed her mind. But, when a DOB inspector said everything was “okay” and then returned seven hours later with Con Edison, she was confused.
“We were baffled,” she said. She noted that they asked him why it took seven hours to determine this and he gave no answer.
They contacted plumbers and discovered it could cost roughly $100,000 to fix everything. The family also learned there was a DOB ‘stop work order’ on the building that dates back to 1996.
“We’re out of luck and we’ve been closed now for about two weeks,” she exclaimed.
Her father, Fredy Loeser, used his Bar Mitzvah money to open the deli when he was 17 with his father, Ernest who had escaped Nazi Germany.
The deli quickly grew to be the place to go for delicious kosher food and for many, felt like home. Over the years, mayors Michael Bloomberg and Ed Koch frequented the restaurant.
The family spans three generations and all of them at some point have worked in the deli.
In October, during a grand celebration, West 231st Street and Godwin Terrace, was renamed Loeser’s Deli Place.
“Growing up my father was like a super hero,” she said. “Loeser’s was a like a sacred place.”
Many people have flooded social media expressing sadness about the situation and some have even offered to start a GoFundMe to help raise money.
However, Loeser Halpern explained her dad is too humble to accept financial help.
She said unless there’s a miracle, she’s not sure what the future holds.