Junior's Deli can't face rent hike, will close within days

Longtime employes of Junior's Deli at the Rancho Park end of Westwood Boulevard were told today that the Westside landmark will close before the end of the year. A rent hike from the landlord is to blame, along with slumping business, say the sons of Junior's founder Marvin Saul, who died last year. "It’s catastrophic for me,” David Saul told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m at a loss. It’s like I’m grieving a death.” Junior's opened on Pico Boulevard in 1959 and moved in 1967 to its current location, where it became a gathering spot for celebrities such as Mel Brooks and a working breakfast spot for Westside politicos.

From the LAT story:

Each year from 1971 on, Marvin hammered out a rental agreement with Beverly Hills-based landlord Four Corners Investments.

But just over a year ago, he passed away of a heart attack at age 82. Now, after attempting to raise Junior’s rent, Four Corners “has just decided that [they’re] not going to negotiate any further,” Saul said.

Managers at the real estate firm could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“We were blindsided,” Saul said. “They want a number that we can’t give and they’re not willing to bend.”

The staff has dwindled to 95 from a high of 150 as the customer base for Jewish delis faded. "Customers don’t want to pay $13 for a sandwich,” Saul says in the Times story. “For a lot of people in today’s economic times, that’s a hard thing to stomach." Saul said he and his brother hope to reopen elsewhere with an updated menu.

It's another big blow to the corner of Westwood and Pico, which lies just to the south of Junior's. The Barnes and Noble bookstore in Westside Pavilion closed after last New Year's, and there's been other turnover at the corner. It has felt for awhile like some kind of major remake is coming, especially with the extension of the Expo Line not that far off..

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