Jan 5, 2006 6:44 am US/Eastern
(1010 WINS) (NEW YORK) One of the most famous delis in New York City may have served its last corned beef on rye.
The owner of the 2nd Avenue Deli said he closed the restaurant Sunday after a lease dispute with the building's new owners.
"My current rent is $24,000 a month for 2,800 square feet,'' Jack Lebewohl told The New York Times. "They want $33,000. I can't afford that.''
Jonis Realty of Great Neck, N.Y., owns the building. The Times said messages left with representatives of Jonis Realty were not returned.
The deli has been a landmark in the Lower East Side ever since it opened in 1954, serving much-loved Jewish fare like chopped liver, potato kugel and hefty corned beef sandwiches.
Lebewohl said the restaurant needs to undergo major renovations to pass Board of Health regulations. Lebewohl said he couldn't justify the added investment without a more affordable long-term lease.
Lebewohl, 57, said he wants to reopen but can't without a new lease agreement.
His brother, Abe, a Holocaust survivor who founded the restaurant, was shot and killed while attempting to make a bank deposit in 1996.
"My goal is to reopen,'' he told the paper. "We've become a destination.''