A rent dispute is prompting the impending closure of Junior's Deli, which has been titillating taste buds on the city's Westside with pastrami and other fare since 1959.
Employees, some of whom have been serving for decades, learned Wednesday that the restaurant will close within a week, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"It's catastrophic for me," David Saul, whose father founded the delicatessen and who now co-owns the business with his brother, John, told The Times. "I'm at a loss. It's like I'm grieving a death."
Marvin Saul established the deli on Pico Boulevard after a failed stint as a uranium miner. The restaurant moved to its current location at 2379 Westwood Blvd. in Westwood in 1967. The 11,000 square foot space includes a bakery and catering business in addition to the restaurant.
For years the elder Saul negotiated agreements with his landlord, Beverly Hills-based Four Corners Investments, but he died last year at the age of 82. Negotiations this year broke down over a proposed rise in the rent, according to David Saul.
"They want a number that we can't give, and they're not willing to bend," he told The Times.
Managers at Four Corners could not be reached for comment, The Times reports.
Sales have also been slumping. In the early 2000s Junior's was bringing in more than $7 million in revenue, but sales fell 20 percent over the last three years as food costs rose, Saul told The Times.
"Customers don't want to pay $13 for a sandwich," Saul told The Times. "For a lot of people in today's economic times, that's a hard thing to stomach. They'd rather go to a Subway or something."
The workforce at Junior's Deli has dropped from a high of 150 employees a decade ago to 95.
Saul told The Times he hopes to reopen the deli somewhere else with a "more 21st century" vibe.
"The allure of delis has been tarnished over the years," he told The Times. "People won't recognize what they had until they've lost it."