L.A. History: Iconic Greenblatt’s Deli to Shutter

Iconic L.A. Restaurant Greenblatt’s Deli to Shutter

The spot has long been a favored haunt of Hollywood, hosting everyone from Marilyn Monroe and Janis Joplin to Kirk Douglas and Marlon Brando.

 

Greenblatt’s Delicatessen, the iconic Sunset Boulevard restaurant that opened in 1926 and became a beloved meeting place for movie stars, filmmakers and local Angelenos, is closing.

Rumors of the closure spread on social media Tuesday, but staffers were unable to be reached by day’s end for comment. On Wednesday, a staffer informing customers that the entire operation, including the restaurant, deli and wine bar, would shutter permanently as of 8 p.m.

When asked for comment, the staffer said the manager on duty did not want to speak to the press and the owner was unavailable for additional comment.

It’s unclear why Greenblatt’s is closing, but it’s suffering the same fate as many restaurants, venues and retail shops amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated the business landscape as owners grapple with rising rent, labor shortages and unpredictable patronage.

Per Greenblatt’s website, it was opened in 1926 by Herman Greenblatt. It was then purchased by the Kavin family in the early 1940s and has been operated by that family for three generations.

It has long been a favored haunt of Hollywood and the restaurant lists such famous customers as Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Groucho Marx, Errol Flynn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, Bing Crosby, Peter Lawford, Boris Karloff, Bobby Darin, Rita Hayworth, Kirk Douglas, Bela Lugosi, Marlon Brando, Peter Lorre, Lenny Bruce, Orson Welles, Robert Mitchum, John Belushi, Danny Kaye and Billie Holiday.

Inside the restaurant, there’s a laminated letter posted on the wall from Kirk Douglas and addressed to owner Jeff Kavin. Dated Aug. 2, 2002, it states, “There are some institutions that must always exist. Greenblatt’s Deli is one of them. You are almost as old as I am.”

The rumors continued to circulate Wednesday afternoon with many industry notables taking to Twitter to share memories of time spent there — and their favorite menu items. Henry Winkler posted, “When I first arrived in L.A., I lived right up the street … got a tuna on rye everyday … THANK YOU Greenblatt’s Deli!!!!”

Writer-producer Larry Karaszewski hoped the rumors would be debunked, adding, “It’s my favorite L.A. deli.”

Happy Endings writer Todd Waldman called the closure “awful news,” adding, “Greenblatt’s was such a great and underrated deli in Los Angeles. My go-to matzo ball soup whenever I was sick. Excellent service, awesome wine selection. A big piece of Los Angeles is gone forever.”