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‘He Built an L.A. Landmark’ ~ Owner Of Canter’s Deli in Fairfax Dies at 82, RIP Alan Canter

5:55 PM PST on January 27, 2019

    [dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]lan Canter started as a pickle packer and delivery boy when L.A. landmark Canter’s Deli first moved to the Fairfax District from Boyle Heights in 1941. The restaurant quickly became a fixture in the once-fledgling Jewish neighborhood, and eventually a popular watering hole for Hollywood celebrities and rock musicians.

    The Canter family announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page Friday that company patriarch Alan Canter has died. He was 82.

    “He kept his family legacy alive and built an L.A. landmark,” the 24-hour deli said. “He worked 18 hour shifts and took pride in hand-cutting each fruit cup. He taught his children how to run this business just as his father taught him. We are deeply saddened by this loss.”

    A memorial will be held Monday, January 28 at 12:30 p.m. at Mount Sinai Memorial Parks, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles, the post said.

    Image via Canter's Deli/Facebook.

    Alan Canter’s father, Ben, opened the first Canter’s in Boyle Heights in 1931 with some of his brothers. Back then, Boyle Heights was a largely immigrant Jewish neighborhood. After World War 2, when the Jewish population moved to the city’s western neighborhoods and the San Fernando Valley, Canter’s moved with them.

    In the 1940s the family moved the restaurant to the city’s Fairfax District, a growing Jewish neighborhood. Canter’s daughter Selma Udko and her then-husband, Harold Price, helped make relocate the restaurant.

    Canter’s popularity is a testament to the Angeleno’s love affair with all American corned beef and hearty pastrami sandwiches. But it is also a testament to the business acumen of the Canter’s family.

    [dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n 1953, the restaurant moved up the block into the former Esquire Theater. Previously, it showed Yiddish-language films. Opening a delicatessen in a spacious movie theater provided for much more seating. Canter’s was also one of L.A.’s first 24-hour restaurants. The restaurant expanded in 1959, and the Kibbitz Room cocktail lounge opened in 1961.

    The Canter’s of the 1950s was a go-to watering hole for Hollywood celebrity types and showbiz personalities in part because it was open all night and because of its proximity to the Sunset Strip, less than a mile away.

    The Kibitz Room, just in time for the 1960s counterculture. L.A. rock icons, such as of Jim Morrison, hung out there. And later in the 1990s, Courtney Love and Jakob Dylan, Bob Dylan’s son, were also regulars.

    Today, the deli remains a popular gathering place for the old and young, and continues to attract its share of celebrities. Before a speech in Los Angeles in 2014, then-President Obama dropped by and struck up conversations with diners about basketball and his failing jump shot.

    For any restaurant, however, it invariably returns to the food. Canter’s home-made pickles and bagels lure customers back again and again, as they accompany nearly every single order.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Alan Canter.

    RELATED: When the Jewish Bakers of Boyle Heights Were Radical Socialists Instead of Trump Supporters

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