A few subway stops away from its original midtown stomping grounds, Carnegie Deli is reincarnated, circa 1958. A Ford Galaxie 500 is parked outside on Lafayette Street, where a fur-trimmed coat-wearing woman is pushing a vintage stroller and a crowd of hungry New Yorkers are awaiting open booths.
“You can’t really experience a place like this in New York. It’s fun to step back in time and escape what has become Starbucks and everything else that is so prefab,” says pop-up organizer, Michael Benson. “This takes you back in time to a place I wish we still had.”
The deli, which closed in 2016 after 79 years on Seventh Avenue, has reopened as a pop-up in celebration of the second-season release of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” set in the ’50s.
The temporary Carnegie borrows recognizable bits from its original location — a photo “Wall of Fame” and a jukebox ready to play tracks by Judy Garland and Fats Domino — and blends them with the series’ original flair — an all-pink bathroom and Gaslight Cafe flyers.
“Ladies, leave your corsets at home,” and “Behind every successful sandwich is a strong woman” posters hang on the walls channeling the tenacity of Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), a housewife turned stand-up comic who continuously breaks gender barriers set by the decade.
“Midge’s personality, she’s a brave woman and it’s funny because she embodies ‘let’s do it’ like no one else,” says Benson, the head of marketing for Amazon Studios.
The deli’s period-appropriate design looks to capture what “Midge would have wanted to see, something that was much more about that, ‘in your face, I’m not going to stop,’ attitude that Midge, has but also that the Carnegie Deli had as well."
The feminist flair is as appealing as the main attraction: the food.
Two sandwiches — that you can get with your spare change, literally — are named after the series’ bold female faces, Midge and Susie (Alex Borstein).
The Maisel, 7 ounces of Carnegie Deli pastrami, salami, coleslaw, and secret sauce on rye, weighs in at an impressive 99 cents. As does The Susie, which swaps the red-meat with turkey between rye.
"The Midge and Susie were created to represent the personality of each of them. One is a little hot and spicy and the other is practically perfect,” Benson explains. “They were both created for ‘women who want to eat, and not just have lunch,’ again just stepping back in time before women really had a voice but had something to say."
Rounding out the menu are 75 cent mini knishes and black and white cookies, cheesecake slices and pickles, priced at 50 cents each.
“We recreated the menus, the photos, the feeling of what it might have been, the prices,” he adds. “It feels like you’re stepping into that time with the food lining the shelves and the pictures on the walls, the costumes. It really takes you back.”
The pop-up shop took nearly nine months for Amazon and creative pop-up partner Tool to plan out, referencing photos of the “Maisel” set, the deli and magazines like the December 1958 issue of Popular Electronics.
Reservations for the pop-up have already filled up, but you can still stop by to try to grab a walk-in seat or order takeout. It’ll stick around at 201 Lafayette St. for eight days, starting Saturday.
Season 2 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” hits Amazon Prime in full on Dec. 5.