Dozens of pastrami lovers lined up early Friday morning for their last shot at getting a meal at the Carnegie Deli, which is closing its doors after nearly 80 years of slinging pastrami.
The deli, which has been owned by the same family for more than 40 years, is serving its last sandwich Friday, and longtime fans and newcomers alike braved the cold in order to get a prime spot in the line, which by 8:30 a.m. was already snaking halfway down the block.
Bob Ornstein and his wife Isabel, who came in from Westchester and snagged the first spot in line, said they had shown up at about 6:45 a.m., more than half an hour before sunup. Ornstein, who grew up in the city, said he had been coming to Carnegie for about 50 years, and wanted one last sandwich before the shop closed its doors.
“It’s difficult to get really excellent pastrami these days,” he said.
Still, Ornstein is not getting too worked up over the closing of the deli.
“It’s sad, but hey: Katz’s Deli is better anyway,” he said.
Waiting in line just behind the Ornsteins were sisters Doretha Foggi and Mary Hopkins, of Crown Heights, who described themselves as relatively recent Carnegie converts. Foggi said she had been meaning to come for years, and when she heard in September that Carnegie was set to shut its doors for good, the impending closure motivated her to come see what the fuss was about.
The fuss, she said, was warranted, and Foggi has been back several times, waiting in line for hours for a coveted sandwich.
“This is the best of the best,” Foggi said. “I wish I had come sooner, but that’s alright cause I made up for it.”
Foggi said Carnegie’s steep prices were not a deterrent given the big portions, which she managed to stretch into three meals after her last jaunt to the deli. For her last Carnegie trip Friday, she said she was looking forward to getting the $30 pastrami sandwich, with leftovers to spare.
“I’m definitely gonna need a doggie bag,” she said. “I ain’t got a dog but that’s OK, I’ll be the dog.”