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Rego Park Deli Featured in 'The Comedian' Enjoys Its Moment of Fame

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | February 13, 2017 4:34pm
 Danny DeVito and Jay Parker at Ben's Best Deli.
Danny DeVito and Jay Parker at Ben's Best Deli.
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Courtesty of Jay Parker

Rego Park residents can now eat their lunch “on the set.”

Ben’s Best Deli, the iconic kosher deli that's served its pastrami and roast beef sandwiches on Queens Boulevard since 1945, appeared in new movie “The Comedian.” 

The movie — a Taylor Hackford-directed drama about aging stand-up comic Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro), whom the audience only wants to remember as a sitcom star he used to be years ago — came out earlier this year. In it, the deli is owned by its real owner, Jay Parker, and his partner Jimmy Berkowitz (Danny DeVito), Burke’s younger brother.

Since the movie came out in December, customers have been asking Parker when De Niro will be back and whether the actors ate at the deli, which is known for naming its dishes and sandwiches after local politicians, stores and events.

Jay Parker, the owner of Ben's Best Deli (DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska)

“Hey movie star, how you doin’?,” one patron greeted Parker Friday.

Some patrons have asked for his autograph while others want to know the next time Ben's Best is in a movie so they can be a part of it as well, he said.

“It’s exciting,” said Jeff Levine, 58, of Forest Hills, who has been coming to Ben's Best Deli for five decades. “It’s good that it gets the kind of recognition that it deserves.”

Parker downplayed his newly gained fame.

“Nobody is a celebrity here," he said. "But it was a whole lot of fun,” he said, adding that the filmmakers initially shot three scenes with him but only one was used in the movie. 

The scene, however, was included in the movie trailers and the deli itself appears multiple times throughout "The Comedian," which was shot in February 2016, and also stars Leslie Mann, Edie Falco, Patti Lupone and Harvey Keitel.

The portrait of Parker’s father and deli's founder, Benjamin, decorating the wall, also got the part — in the film it depicts the father of Berkowitz and Burke.

DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

“Everybody was so very, very nice, they are real professional folks," said Parker, whose deli was also featured in “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” several years ago, a food reality TV show hosted by Guy Fieri, as well as in "Deli Man,” a documentary on Jewish delis.  

Parker said he is most proud of the fact that the actors seemed to like the food they had at Ben's Best.

“DeVito liked everything and De Niro really liked the pastrami and the chopped liver, he sent back twice for it,” Parker said.

The deli, which has seen a number of new customers since the movie came out, also offers 15 percent off to those who bring their movie ticket stub, Parker said.