Farewell to Greenblatt’s

By Linda F. Cauthen

When Greenblatt’s Deli closed permanently a few days ago, many of us in West Hollywood felt like we had lost an old friend. This Sunset Blvd. establishment had been on the same block for decades, so long that it seemed like it would always be there, serving up those memorable pastrami sandwiches with a side of their homemade potato salad.

My own history with Greenblatt’s began in 1972, when I moved into the apartment building right behind the deli’s original location. This was about six months after I had made the big move from my hometown in Alabama to the Los Angeles area and I was on the hunt for cool new places to check out. Back then, the deli was located on the corner of Laurel Ave., in the spot that now houses The Laugh Factory.

My new apartment was the ideal launching pad for a young single girl new in town since I could score gourmet-quality takeout just a few yards away, with not only Greenblatt’s but Ah Fong’s in the same mall. The parking lot was also good for entertainment, as my kitchen window looked out onto a steady stream of celebrity customers. When you walked into the door of the tiny store, you never knew who you would run into.

According to the official site for Greenblatt’s, the deli opened in 1926, moving from a previous location in less-chic South Central L.A. This was when Sunset Blvd. was a dirt road west of Doheny, but was growing fast as the main thoroughfare connecting the movie studios to the east with the brand new luxe enclave Beverly Hills to the west. The location may have been considered out in the country back then but was soon joined by notable neighbors like the Garden of Allah (1927), the Chateau Marmont (1929) and Schwab’s Pharmacy (1932). The 1930s must have been a fabulous time to live or visit this neighborhood, with movie stars checking into the Garden or the Chateau to indulge in behavior that they hoped to keep hush-hush. Greenblatt’s kept these celebs well-fed while they hid from the public and the press.

Greenblatt’s proved to be so successful that in 1979 the deli moved into a larger location next door and added an upstairs dining room. This move allowed the business to devote more space to their growing collection of fine wines and spirits. Although during the deli’s early years in the thirties, the establishment was forbidden from selling intoxicating libations by Prohibition, management later made up for lost time by offering a tempting selection of premium wines as well as expert advice on how to serve and enjoy them.

After all these years, many of us in West Hollywood had come to take Greenblatt’s for granted, like that old friend who would always welcome you back, no matter how long you had been away. That’s why it was such a shock when the news came that the deli would be closing its doors permanently on August 11. Current owner Jeff Kavin is hoping that a buyer will take over Greenblatt’s and keep it going but in today’s business climate, that is likely to prove difficult.

Greenblatt’s wasn’t the only deli in Los Angeles, or even in West Hollywood, but it was a one-of-a-kind institution that can’t be replaced and will be sorely missed.

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Roy
Roy
19 days ago

Scuttlebutt on the streets says Shelli and Irving Azoff might buy it, like they did Nate & Al’s.

Malibu Boy 🌴
Malibu Boy 🌴
20 days ago

stories like this make me so sad, make me realize I’m getting old. when I first moved to weho there was a Chinese restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard that was absolutely delicious. It was owned by a very famous black actor, whose Name Escapes me right now, and run daily by his Asian girlfriend. Along with the adorable Hispanic waiter both of them super nice served the most delicious food. After a couple of years, the place closed I miss it to this day.

Cory
Cory
20 days ago

China One. It was on the corner of Santa Monica and Sweetzer, where Hamburger Mary’s is currently. It was owned by Wesley Snipes then girlfriend, Donna Wong. Wesley was a silent partner. I waited tables there. Donna was the nicest person to work for.

Dale
Dale
23 days ago

It was devastating to me that it closed. I went there at least once a week when I was in town. I was in Mexico when I heard the news and I would have done anything to rush there to grab the best pastrami sandwich and my favorite chicken and matzo ball soup, not to forget the delicious chopped liver! My heart is broken. I really hope someone buys it and opens it up again, serving the same delicious fare! Does anyone know how to get information on the sale price?

AriR
AriR
24 days ago

Thanks for such a wonderful piece! My husband remembers Ah Fongs and used to go as a kid. Please bring back something like that, as well. Chinese/American food is out of favor but who doesn’t love a dimly lit Chinese spot with red booths? And please, please bring back Greenblatt’s. Every time I went, it felt like family.
Why can’t a wealthy Jewish celebrity help?

Dale
Dale
23 days ago
Reply to  AriR

I totally agree with you. There must be someone who is willing to keep it alive? We want Greenblatts back!

Malibu Boy 🌴
Malibu Boy 🌴
20 days ago
Reply to  AriR

how about Jerry Seinfeld ?

Malibu Boy 🌴
Malibu Boy 🌴
20 days ago
Reply to  AriR

you know, thinking it over, not that I think there’s anything at all wrong with your comment because there isn’t, but why does it have to be a Jewish celebrity? I’m not Jewish and if I had the money if I had the desire I could open a deli. when I was a kid growing up many years ago, our favorite pizza place was Mike’s and our favorite Chinese place was Tom’s chop suey. Trust me, the name doesn’t matter. we need to resist the MSM’s agenda of dividing everything into race and gender and nationalities. can’t we all just… Read more »

Chopstick
Chopstick
25 days ago

Please bring back A.H. Fong’s while we are at it and relocate Greenblatt’s to their original location. Who doesn’t love a classic Chinese restaurant.

Randy
Randy
26 days ago

If Quentin Tarantino can rescue the New Beverly and The Vista, can someone who is out-of-his/her-mind wealthy do the same here? Jerry Seinfeld? Larry David? Someone who has a connection? If I had hundreds of millions of dollars, I’d rescue a beloved place like this, even if I thought I might lose a little $$ in the process. I still cannot see how they lost money. Even w/o knowing their financials. I frequented them all throughout the pandemic. And years and years before. Always, always busy. Owner says they couldn’t hire personnel. Well, then, pay people more, and raise the… Read more »

Leo
Leo
26 days ago

They made a campaign on BlocTok to poll the neighborhood on what business they would like to see open in the Greenblatt’s space. You must become a user first to confirm you are a neighbor (like nextdoor.com). I voted to bring back Greenblatt’s! Check it out:

https://www.bloctok.com/campaign_view/do48i

Glenn Charlsen
Glenn Charlsen
27 days ago

If Hollywood can build a spaceship, field of dreams, and raise humans from the grave, why not spin that local magic on our beloved Greenblatts? Someone help us, pleeeeese?! Ahhhhh. Pleeeeese 😭

Last edited 27 days ago by Glenn Charlsen
Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
28 days ago

With all due respect, I was always a “Canter’s Person”

Sad to see it go.

Babette Ory
Babette Ory
28 days ago

Ah Fongs as Greenblats OG neighbor was owned and run by my friend Benson Gong Charlie Chan’s #1 Son.
I miss Benson and his food

Babette Ory
Babette Ory
28 days ago
Wesley McDowell
Wesley McDowell
28 days ago

Thanks for a very interesting piece. I’ve seen Greenblatt’s for years but didn’t become a patron until just a couple of years ago. It quickly became one of my go-to places. I loved their half chicken dinner.

I still think there’s more to the story than we’re being told. Last year was tough for everyone but Greenblatt’s was open for takeout. I got Thanksgiving dinner there. Now that things are slowly coming back to some kind of normal is when they suddenly close with no notice. Something just doesn’t add up.

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