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Onetime Dishwasher Seeks To Buy Carnegie Deli, Keep It Open

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A former dishwasher at the Carnegie Deli has launched a possible last-ditch effort to save the famed Carnegie Deli.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, the owners of the famed deli, at 854 Seventh Ave. at 55th St., announced this past Friday that they will close their doors for good at the end of the year.

And while there are always pastrami lovers lined up outside the iconic deli, there is now extra motivation.

"I just heard they're closing this year and happened to be in town, so I thought that there's no way I can pass up the opportunity to eat here at least once before its gone," said Joel Crespo of St. Louis.

The Carnegie Deli has been open since 1937, but Marian Harper Levine – whose family has owned the restaurant since 1976 – said the restaurant will be no more effective Dec. 31.

"As you all know, the restaurant business is one of the hardest jobs in New York City," Harper wrote in the Friday announcement. "At this stage of my life, the early morning to late night days have taken a toll, along with my sleepless nights and grueling hours that come with operating a restaurant business in Manhattan. I'm very sad to close Carnegie Deli New York at 854 Seventh Ave., but I've reached a time in my life when I need to take a step back."

"I can't believe they're closing," another visitor said. "The food was actually great."

"It's really sad it's such a New York iconic landmark that's closing, but we're excited to be here," said Kelly Furche of Fort Worth, Texas.

But Sam Mussovic, who claims he worked briefly at the deli more than 40 years ago, said he wants to take over. He already owns three other family restaurants and is now offering the current owner $5 million and a percentage of future proceeds.

"Of course you want to make a profit, but it's not about that. It's about continuing something. It's history," Mussovic said. "We're messing with history here, and I don't want to see it destroyed."

Mussovic said he worked for original deli owners Milton Parker and Leo Steiner, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported.

"Both would be rolling over in their graves if they knew the Carnegie Deli was closing," Mussovic said.

The Carnegie Deli has received several offers to buy the place since the closing was announced Friday. But the restaurant manager said so far, the owners aren't biting.

"There's management companies, real estate companies -- the phone hasn't stopped ringing since Friday when the first newscast went out at 7 o'clock in the morning," said Carnegie Deli manager John Gentile.

Gentile said the current owners simply are not interested in keeping the restaurant open.

"The Carnegie name is still going to be in business. It's just not this location," Gentile said.

The company earlier said owner Harper "will dedicate and focus her time on licensing the iconic Carnegie Deli brand and sell Carnegie Deli's world-famous products for wholesale distribution…to keep the Carnegie legacy alive."

The owners of the Carnegie Deli said further that they are not affiliated with any fundraising efforts to keep the restaurant open, and cautioned patrons about scams asking for contributions on their behalf.

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