Several dozen New Yorkers and tourists lined up at the Carnegie Deli on Seventh Avenue in midtown one recent evening, just days before the famed city icon is set to shut its doors.
Known for its towering sandwiches and celebrity faces lining the walls, the restaurant, which opened in 1937, will officially close at midnight on Saturday (or Friday night).
“It’s good food. It’s a New York icon,” said Brooklyn Heights resident and doctor Liz Dvor, who was stood in line recently with her husband for more than 45 minutes waiting to get inside. She was ready to order the “Woody Allen,” half pastrami, half corned beef.
Dvor and her husband made a night of it, sipping prosecco out of a bag and patiently waiting their turn.
“We were committed to it,” she said of visiting the deli before it closes.
The “Woody Allen” sandwich is part of what made the deli so famous. The eatery was featured in the filmmaker’s 1984 film “Broadway Danny Rose.”
Its numerous other film and TV appearances include the 1996 movie “One Fine Day” and cameos on the History Channel, “60 Minutes,” “Unwrapped,” “Emeril Live,” “Law & Order” and “Dr. Phil.”
Its current owner Marian Harper took over the kosher-style restaurant from her father Milton Parker, who served as the “Chief Pastrami Maven” and acquired the eatery from its original owners in 1976.
For some, heading to the restaurant in its last week in business was simply a last opportunity to feast on the giant sandwiches.
“It’s a New York institution,” said Norris Nonkin, 61, of Sheepshead Bay. “Go for one last time -- just the experience of saying we went to the Carnegie Deli right before its closing.”
On Tuesday evening, Courtney Cassimer, 21, got on the line, having tried and failed to eat there the night before when the deli closed early at 8 p.m. There were already several dozen waiting for a table and a formidable showing for the takeout counter.
“It’s a staple,” said Cassimer, who lives in Flatbush. “Besides world’s best, it’s world famous.”
Customers Tuesday night were told the business would again close early, this time at 11 p.m., but Cassimer begged and was given a reprieve. It would be her first and last time eating at the restaurant. The early closing also didn’t stop many from lining up behind her, hoping they’d be as lucky.
New Jersey resident Donna Rodriguez had never eaten there either.
“It was closing and it was enticing,” said Rodriguez, who works in Brooklyn. Ultimately, it was the “anticipation of going in and trying something monumental” that drew her in.
“I can say, ‘hey, I tried that right before’” it closed, she added.
The eatery is scheduled to be open for normal business hours on Friday (8 a.m. to midnight).
“The deli is working very hard to ensure that all of their customers on their long lines are served,” Justine DiGiglio, a spokeswoman, said in an email.
But New Yorkers who want their fix don’t have to fret: Carnegie Deli still has locations inside Madison Square Garden, The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and The Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It is also a vendor at the annual U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens, according to the company website. And for a taste of New York a bit further away, the deli will still do online deliveries.