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Restaurateur's $5M Offer to Buy Carnegie Deli Rebuffed by Management

By Maya Rajamani | October 3, 2016 6:13pm | Updated on October 4, 2016 5:05pm
 Sammy Musovic (center) hopes to purchase the Carnegie Deli from owner Marian Harper.
Sammy Musovic (center) hopes to purchase the Carnegie Deli from owner Marian Harper.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

MIDTOWN — A former Carnegie Deli dishwasher-turned-Upper East Side restaurateur has launched a hostile takeover bid for the soon-to-shutter eatery — a move the famed pastrami joint's manager called a “bunch of malarkey.”

In the three days since owner Marian Harper announced her plans to close the deli at the end of the year, restaurateur Sammy Musovic has reached out to her “numerous” times with a $5 million offer for the restaurant — but has yet to hear back, he told DNAinfo New York.

On Monday, the would-be buyer, his two sons and a small group of supporters gathered outside the eatery with “Save the Carnegie Deli” signs in hopes of securing a meeting with Harper.

 Carnegie Deli manager John Gentile speaks to reporters outside the deli on Monday.
Carnegie Deli manager John Gentile speaks to reporters outside the deli on Monday.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

“This was my first job when I came to NYC and it was basically a dream to do this, for myself and New York City,” said Musovic, 56, who said he worked as a dishwasher at the deli more than four decades ago.

“I want to keep it going for another 70 or 80 years,” he added.

Musovic — who owns three restaurants on the Upper East Side, including Selena Rosa and Sojourn — said he already has a group of investors willing to shell out at least $5 million to purchase the deli. He plans to circulate a petition collecting signatures of support.

The eatery’s current employees would be able to keep their jobs, and nothing about the restaurant would change under his management, he explained.

The deli’s management, however, seemed less than receptive to Musovic’s offer.

“You shouldn’t be using the Carnegie Deli’s name to promote your own business,” manager John Gentile told Musovic before the conference began. “This is just a bunch of malarkey.”

A spokeswoman for the deli, meanwhile, sent out a statement reiterating Harper’s plans to close the restaurant.

“Unfortunately, after 40 years at this Seventh Avenue location, the Harper family has made a very difficult decision to hang up their aprons and have no intentions of continuing at the location,” the statement said.

“The family is not affiliated with any fundraising efforts to continue operations, and caution patrons with any efforts to do so,” it added.

Gentile, who has managed the deli since it reopened in February, maintained Musovic and his supporters were holding the press conference “for their own self-promotion.”

The restaurant has received several other offers from buyers since news of its closing broke on Friday, he noted.

“If [Harper] has made a decision to close, that’s her prerogative,” Gentile said. “Good for [Musovic], God bless him, and maybe he’s got a job for me down the line, but I don’t know the man from a hole in the wall.”

Musovic, however, said he didn’t have any ulterior motives.

“It’s not even for the money. [This would] be like New York losing the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building,” he said. “We’re basically trying to do this for New York.”