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Erickson's Deli Temporarily Closed ... Again: 'It's Been a Trying Time'

By Jackie Kostek | December 2, 2014 9:42am
 Erickson's Delicatessen, 5250 N. Clark St.
Erickson's Delicatessen, 5250 N. Clark St.
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Ericksons/ Facebook

ANDERSONVILLE — Erickson’s Delicatessen has been a holiday season staple in Andersonville for decades, but the family that owns the Scandinavian deli has struggled to keep it afloat in recent years.

Now, it's been shut down by the city.

Ann-Mari Nilsson and her daughter Ann-Britt Nilsson own the deli, which has survived nearly 90 years in Andersonville, and has been in the Nilsson family since 1978.

On Nov. 13, the city's Department of Public Health found four critical violations during an inspection of the deli, including a refrigeration issue with display coolers, cheese and salami kept at improper temperatures and an "infestation of rodent droppings."

Ann-Britt Nilsson said her family made a conscious decision to keep the shop temporarily closed after it was shut down by the city.

“Everything has hit at the same time,” said Ann-Britt Nilsson, of the last year. “It’s been a trying time.”

Nilsson said her mother was nearly taken to the hospital over the holiday weekend because of health concerns. Nilsson said her mother is 93 and survived a stroke nine years ago.

Her mom's health began deteriorating over the summer and “everything went south from there,” Ann-Britt Nilsson said.

Nilsson said she specifically chose to turn a display cooler off because she did not need the storage space at the time and the cost of running the cooler was high.

Above a neon green “License Suspended” sign posted on the deli’s front door by the city, there are three handwritten notes to customers: “It’s structural in the back room,” “We are on Facebook for updates,” and “We will be opening again soon — minor setback along with everything else this year.”

In a Facebook post on Nov. 14, the day after the inspection report was filed, Nilsson addressed the suspension.

“These issues are NON-FOOD RELATED. There are some structural issues that need to be addressed in non-food storage area,” she wrote.

Cristina Villarreal, of the Department of Public Health, said an inspector needed to visit the deli to make sure all the critical violations were corrected before it could reopen, but the owner had not requested a follow-up inspection.

Because both Nilsson and her mom own the store, Nilsson said she has been struggling to balance the responsibilities of owning a business with her need to take care of her mother.

Last year, the deli asked supporters for donations to stay afloat, saying that while the holidays are busy, the rest of the year is a slog.

“It’s just been one thing on top of the other,” said Nilsson.

Longtime customers of the deli showed support on Facebook. Joy Knutson said she has ordered from the deli for Christmas for more than 40 years.

“Health is more important,” Knutson wrote on Facebook. “Thanks for the update.”

“Hoping for a fast repair!” wrote Janet Carlson on Facebook. “Christmas wouldn’t be the same without you.”

Despite the circumstances, Nilsson emphasized the deli would not be closed permanently and would likely reopen in a couple of weeks, before Christmas.

“This is a major setback,” said Nilsson, “but a temporary setback. We are not closing.”

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