Iconic Al's Deli shuts its doors

Customers wanting an infamous Super Combo #1 at Al’s Italian American Delicatessen found last week that the restaurant’s door was locked and brown paper covered its windows.

Although the deli has been run by Greg and Rosa Tomassian for more than 20 years, Al’s had been in Montrose for six decades. That’s a lot of salami, capocollo, mortadella, pepperoni and provolone.

Workers on Friday were removing a refrigerator and renovating the inside of the iconic deli at 2332 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose to make way for a new business, though no details were immediately available.

Greg Tomassian could not be reached for comment.

Rather than relish in the demise of a competitor, Quiznos owner Maroun “Maron” Atallah was somber at the news. He said he often found himself buying a sandwich at Al’s.

“Straight up, I’ll speak from the heart. I’m sad to see it go,” Atallah said Monday. “I’ve been eating at Al’s since 1994. They had great sandwiches. I liked their turkey. They had a good Italian [sub].”

Atallah, who has owned the Quiznos on the corner of Honolulu and Ocean View Boulevard for the last two and a half years, said he fears a lackluster economic recovery may have spelled doom for Al’s Deli, in addition to a swell of new restaurants locally that has impacted many of the existing eateries along Honolulu.

“We have a new Spanish place, a Gio’s (Baguettes & More), a Wing Stop, especially all the new restaurants in La Cañada. They have a Habit, the Blaze (Fast-Fire’d Pizza). It’s all had an impact on Honolulu,” Atallah said. “We have four places that sell sushi. Who would have thought sushi was so popular?”

He also said fewer people are going out when they take a lunch break at work.

“People are brown-bagging it. The economy has rippled down on a local level. All our sales have softened,” Atallah said. “You’d expect growth and you have to trace that to disposable income. If people are paying $4 a gallon for gas, they’re very selective and not eating out as frequently. Are they going to keep their job next quarter? There’s lots of uncertainty.”

Across Honolulu from Al’s stands The Antique Store. Owner Rocco Em said he’d order an Al’s sandwich twice a week.

“It’s a shame he’s leaving because that’s like a landmark. He was really a good guy,” Em said.

And Melissa Truskett, who has worked at Montrose Travel for 18 years, ponders where she’ll find her turkey and cheese on a roll.

“I was wondering that today, actually, because a sandwich sounded good. I know there’s a couple other options, but I really liked going to Al’s because I liked supporting local business,” Truskett said.


Follow Tim Traeger on Twitter: @TraegerTim.


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