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January 30: In the Kitchen at the Carnegie Deli

January 30, 2014
carnMilton Parker (Packowitz), the co-owner of the Carnegie Deli near Carnegie Hall in New York City, died at 90 on this date in 2009. The Carnegie Deli opened in 1937; Parker acquired it with Leo Steiner and a third “silent” partner in 1976. Steiner served as host and tumler to the deli’s celebrity customers; Parker worked the kitchen, which supplied five-inch-high sandwiches and voluminous portions to patrons. (“If you can finish your meal, we’ve done something wrong” was the store’s motto.) Parker was orphaned at a young age and grew up in poverty. He learned the restaurant business as a young man and opened a coffee shop in Levittown when that pioneering suburban community opened in 1957. Parker’s memoir, How to Feed Friends and Influence People: The Carnegie Deli, provided the following business lessons: 1. Keep it simple. 2. Do one thing better than anyone else. 3. Create a family atmosphere among the staff. 4. Promote from within. 5. Have an open ear to staff and customer comments. 6. Make it yourself. 7. Own the premises. 8. Management is always responsible. 9. Do not be greedy. 10. Have fun working. Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose famously opens inside the Carnegie Deli, with comics including Morty Gunty, Sandy Baron, Jackie Gayle, and Corbett Monica reminisce. Since the movie came out in 1984, the Broadway Danny Rose (corned beef and pastrami with Russian dressing on rye) has been Carnegie’s most popular sandwich. “In the history of delicatessens, Milton Parker’s Carnegie Deli caused more heartburn to the Jewish world than anything I’ve ever heard of.” —Freddie Roman