The Pastrami, The Parking Spot and The Deli Den

by SimplySharpe on March 24, 2010


My Bold and Beautiful Grandmother


I will always remember March 23rd, 2010 for several reasons. First and foremost, it was my Grandmother’s 84th year of life. She is amazing! It was also the first Inaugural EatUpATL event. A night of fabulous food, friends and celebrating. I was really excited and had good vibes all day. I shared this news on my Facebook wall along with mentioning my Grandmother’s birthday.

That is when I got the other news. The Deli Den has closed it’s doors.

Say it ain’t so South Florida?

The news was being confirmed in the comment section of my status update while I was working. I could not even respond with disbelief before hitting the GOOGs. The Deli Den abruptly closed it’s doors and apparently our President just dined there this month. Who knew?

Deli Den was and will always remain in the hearts of all my fellow Emerald Hills friends and family. Growing up in Emerald Hills, the Long Island of the South until Boca and Weston started development, you no doubt ate at the Den. Their pastrami was practically a rite of passage. You went there for traditional New York Jewish deli fare and often picked up meats, bagels and matzo balls to go for guests. There was no such thing as the Publix Deli to the real New Yorkers living in the hood. You had the Den! Their matzo balls were almost as good as your Mother’s and were made fresh along with assorted cookies the non Jewish kids (both of them) had never heard of or seen.

Speaking of Mothers, mine was mildly obsessed with their open face pastrami on rye, kosher pickles and potato knish. My brothers and I heard about her cravings often and were happy to accompany her to the Deli Den where you were almost guaranteed to run into someone you know (like it or not) and perhaps a celebrity like Billy Crystal. Well, I only saw him there once in late 80s, but it was enough to know good Jewish comedians appreciate rare roast beef like I do. I also never minded going because who can resist the promise of a cookie after your meal or Dr. Browns cream soda? Um, no one!

Everyone who was anyone knew that the Deli Den was the epicenter of South Florida’s delicatessens. If you have ever lived in or around the area, you remember the original one was always way better then the one on Sterling Road. It never stopped you from going back. I have lived in Atlanta for over 11 years now and I still manage to hit the Den on my way to the airport many a visits.

As I sit here and mourn the loss of some of the greatest deli I have ever known South of NYC, suddenly I am reminded why this information is unfolding on my Facebook page. There was no mention of the Deli Den in my status. It was the woman, once nicknamed Grambo’s, birthday. It seems her legendary status had to start somewhere and I think the Deli Den may have been that place?

I remember a Saturday afternoon that my Mom made plans to have dinner with my Grandparents. They came over and we all agreed the Deli Den was the best idea since it was more like a late lunch for my brothers and I and an early bird special for Gramps. What a deal! As I mentioned earlier, the Deli Den had relocated to a new plaza and really never was the same. Parking was scarce, but the pastrami was fierce.

My brothers and I decided to ride with Grandma and Grandpa. We pull up to the plaza and there was a car pulling out right in front. Oh. My. G-d. None of us cared about walking from a farther space, but Grambo was clearly on a mission. Before you can say, “Holy Hebrew” Grambo jumps out of the car to go save the spot while Grandpa cheers her on. We all sit in the backseat barely able to process what was going on in the first place and then we noticed it. The other car. It was headed right towards our Grandparents spot. Uh oh.

We look up and see Grambo STANDING in the now vacant space. The other car doesn’t seem to see her yet and keeps going towards the spot. My Grandfather guns the gas pedal and opens the window (simultaneously, my family is full of tremendous multi-taskers) just in time for us to hear Grambo declaring these three words, “NO, NO, NO!” while waving her impossibly adorable finger.

To this very day, if I ever see a spot that looks prime for the taking and I happen to be a passenger, I always offer to save the spot for my driver. It’s called the Deli Den special. Live it, learn it, love it!

While I am sad so many will miss out on the Deli Den, I will always have the fondest memories of that place. And Grambo!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Turner March 25, 2010 at 3:27 am

I dig the Deli Den special. 🙂

SimplySharpe March 25, 2010 at 3:59 am

Just let me know if the Clifford paddy wagon needs a parking space saved 🙂

Vered August 15, 2010 at 12:34 am

Thank you for the nice write up. We just wanted to let you know that The Deli Den is back.
We have relocated to Pembroke Pines in the old Katz Deli location @ 12221 Pembroke Road. It is located on the North East corner of Pembroke Road and Flamingo Road. We have cleaned, scrubbed, painted and made it a beautiful new place. We will hopefully be open by this Thursday August 19th and are so excited to welcome back so many awaiting friends. We have changed our location but the food, deli, bakery and catering are all the same. So get ready South Florida….. We’re back and better than ever!!! We might be a bit of a drive from Emerald Hills, but we are definately worth the drive:))
Hope to see you all soon.

SimplySharpe August 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Great news… Welcome back, Deli Den!!

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