There has been a small but clamorous to-do lately about the decline of the New York Jewish deli from its heyday of thousands to the couple dozen that remain today, their menus reading like pickled and preserved slices of a world otherwise lost to dispersal and assimilation. (The discovery of cholesterol hasn’t helped, either.) But it’s not all bleak news for deli lovers: Artie’s on the Upper West Side signed a lease to stay put for the foreseeable future and may even be expanding to new locations at an indeterminate later date.
Of course, as with most things Manhattan real estate, it’s also not all uncomplicated news. Artie’s was named for Artie Cutler, founder and owner of, among other New York chains, Carmine’s, the Italian eatery of prodigious portions, and the Chinese noodle shop Ollie’s. When Cutler died, his Alicart Restaurant Group retained ownership of the food concepts. According to Crain’s, Alicart sold Artie’s to Tuzia Feldman, who signed a 15-year lease for the deli to remain at 2290 Broadway, at 83rd Street.
So maybe Artie’s was founded not by Eastern European immigrants generations ago but in the ’90s by a man with an aptitude for marketing ethnic cuisines to mainstream palettes. Lining the walls with black-and-white photos of bygone times, evoking eras in the period paneling, Cutler pedaled in the same currency of nostalgia that motivates the recent odes to a dying culture of delicatessens.
And why not? The pastrami-and-rye culture was born not only from Old World traditions but from the demands, constraints and unfamiliar cultures immigrants encountered on the Lower East Side. When it comes to nostalgia, the messy historical truth has always been a little irrelevant, and this story seems to have a few sandwiches in it yet.