Nate ’n Al’s, beloved delicatessen of Beverly Hills, to close for now
Nate ’n Al’s, the legendary Jewish delicatessen that has supplied Beverly Hills with pastrami sandwiches, matzo ball soup and platters of smoked fish since 1945, will close after Sunday night, according to a post on its Instagram page.
But subsequent reports that said the deli was permanently closing were premature, according to statement on Sunday from a spokesman for the restaurant. “The media has incorrectly reported that Nate ‘n Al’s is gone forever,” he said.
“It is in the intention of the current ownership to get through this crisis like every other restaurant and make the right decisions at the right time,” he continued. “Our goal is to keep the Nate ‘n Al’s tradition alive.”
The day before, the restaurant posted news of its closure on Instagram alongside an old black-and-white photo of its storefront on North Beverly Drive.
“Approximately one month ago the world as we knew it changed,” the post read. “We had hoped that we could continue our takeout and delivery service so that we could provide the community with the food that has been a part of our lives for years. However, our number one priority is to keep our customers and our staff safe and secure during this time of uncertainty. After reviewing all the variables, we no longer feel confident that we can do that.”
As dine-in services were suspended across the city this month to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, Nate ’n Al’s, like many restaurants, shifted its focus to takeout and delivery.
Yet the resulting drop in traffic proved to be too much for the 75-year-old establishment, at least for the time being.
“We don’t know what the future holds but we urge everyone to do your best to stay home and stay safe,” the statement on Instagram said.
News of the closure caps off a tumultuous couple of years for the storied deli.
In 2018, the grandchildren of Al Mendelson, one of the deli’s original founders along with Nate Rimer, put Nate ’n Al’s up for sale. The restaurant was purchased last year by a group of Hollywood investors, led by music executive Irving Azoff and his wife, Shelli. The restaurant was reportedly set to relocate to the former Wolfgang’s Steakhouse a block away on Canon Drive, with the original menu and staff remaining in place.
The Nate ‘n Al’s spokesman on Sunday said the restaurant has “encountered major difficulties with the city of Beverly Hills,” which was slated to be its new landlord at the Canon Drive space.
A spokesman for the city said that Beverly Hills had entered into a lease agreement with Nate ‘n Al’s new owners in February 2019. “This is a difficult time for businesses across the City and we are hopeful the owners will continue with their original plan of opening the restaurant in the new location,” he said.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that a tussle between between the city of Beverly Hills and a high-profile restaurant led to a closure. In both cases, the city was the landlord.
In 2017, Thomas Keller closed the local outpost of his French restaurant, Bouchon Bistro — located just two blocks from Nate ‘n Al’s — saying “the circumstances no longer exist to operate a profitable restaurant.”
“We have not been able to find a solution to the adverse conditions impacting our success with our landlord, the city of Beverly Hills, that would provide the proper conditions for the restaurant,” the statement said.
Along with the bistro, which operated for nine years, Keller’s Bar Bouchon and associated bakery closed too.
But the city shot back, saying in a statement to Eater L.A. that it had “done everything it could to help these businesses become profitable.” The Beverly Hills spokesman also clarified in his recent statement that the owners of Bouchon at that time had “stopped paying rent” to the City.
An unassuming comfort-food destination a short walk from Rodeo Drive’s ritzy boutiques, Nate ’n Al’s was famous for its showbiz regulars, including Larry King, who was known to eat breakfast in the same booth every morning. At one time, the delicatessen had multiple locations, including branches in Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles International Airport.
Devotees of the deli’s Reuben sandwich on double-baked rye have one last chance to get their fill, at least for the foreseeable future: Nate ’n Al’s will be open Sunday for call-ahead orders only until 8 p.m.
Times staff writer Daniel Miller contributed to this report.
2:57 p.m. March 29, 2020: This story has been updated with a statement from Nate ’n Al’s owners and the City of Beverly Hills regarding the closure.
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