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Jesse's Deli in Boerum Hill Has Closed

By Nikhita Venugopal | July 29, 2016 11:50am | Updated on August 1, 2016 8:48am
 Jesse's Deli on Atlantic Avenue and Bond Street shuttered this week. Locals have called the deli a
Jesse's Deli on Atlantic Avenue and Bond Street shuttered this week. Locals have called the deli a "neighborhood institution." (Pictured: A photo of Jesse's Deli from May 2015)
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

BOERUM HILL — An Atlantic Avenue corner shop and deli that's been called a "neighborhood institution" shuttered permanently Thursday afternoon, its owners said.

For years, Jesse's Deli, at Atlantic Avenue and Bond Street, had been a local go-to for morning coffee, breakfast sandwiches and groceries.

The deli's loyal regulars fought to save the shop from shuttering last year after a steep rent hike threatened to close the business. In a May 2015 petition to keep it open, roughly 200 signatures were collected and sent to landlord Karina Bilger, of Bilger Design & Development.

The deli also made headlines last summer following a grassroots publicity stunt that claimed the shop had gone "artisanal" and advertised fake higher prices.

But after lease negotiations fell through, the two parties ended up in court. Mohamad Itayim, who owns the deli with his family, said they spent the past year in a legal battle with Bilger regarding terms of the new lease, he told DNAinfo on Friday morning.

Ultimately the family decided they could not sustain the business on an expired lease. The uncertainty of the shop's future made them unable to hire new employees or make large stock orders, he said.

"After a year of doing it, it's impossible to run a business without a lease," Itayim said.

"Honestly we had no real grounds [in court]," he said, adding that they were "just buying ourselves some time."

The deli's imminent closure was first reported by the Brooklyn Paper.

The family closed the doors for good Thursday afternoon, and hope to finish removing equipment and completely vacate the space by Friday.

"I'm about to throw the phone in the garbage," Itayim said. 

For locals, Jesse's Deli was more than a convenient corner shop. During the shop's final few days in business "we got a lot of tears and a lot of sad faces," Itayim said.

He hopes he will eventually be able to open another deli in the neighborhood.

"Maybe. That's the plan. But we're not sure when or where," he said.