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August 19, 2009

Goodbye, Lenny's Deli

JackGoldenson.jpgThis isn't exactly the same as some of the other closings I've reported on, and it probably has nothing to do with the economy, and you have three years to make your farewells (and eat a hot pastrami on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing), but say goodbye to Lenny's Delicatessen on Corned Beef Row.

The Jewish Museum of Baltimore and the Associated have bought the property. Here are the details.

The photo was all we had in the archives. It was taken in 1982, when Lenny's was owned by Jack Goldenson and called Jack's Corned Beef.

(Sun archives)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:31 PM | | Comments (24)


Going to Lenny's used to be such a treat for me. Corned beef on rye with mustard and a huge pickle. The president of the company at my first job treated everyone to Lenny's on their birthday. Great memories...

Any word on the Owings Mills outpost, always crowded and pretty good?

I think that's my dad working behind the counter there...

is that a sweater or a shirt? I wonder where I could get one of them!

If the museum is in fact "dedicated to the interpretation of the Jewish experience in America with special attention to the collection, preservation, and study of Jewish life in Maryland," seems to me they ought to make Lenny's a part of the collection.

I'm somewhat confused - so basically I'll still be able to buy their awesome sandwiches for the foreseeable future, but eventually the museum people are going to turn it into something else? Isn't the delicatessen like, it's own monument to Jewish culture and history?

Lenny's opened in Owings Mills in 1985, and expanded to the old Jack's site on Lombard Street in 1991. Eighteen years' occupancy is hardly the stuff of history, considering that Attman's was founded in 1915. At least Lenny's will be able to lease the place for the next 3 years, assuming the Jewish Museum can raise the funds by then for its proposed expansion.

I know I'm in the minority but my wife and I actually prefer Lenny's corned beef sandwiches to those of its more celebrated neighbor, Attman's. Still, it isn't all bad. We can get through a lot of corned beef (and Pepto Bismol) in three years. Which reminds me of what Buddy Hackett told his doctor after he left home, no longer consuming massive portions of Jewish deli, closely followed by heartburn. "Doctor," he said nervously, "I think my light went out."

I have always prefered Attman's; however, I'm sad to see this closing.

It's going to be hard to use the phrase "Corned Beef Row" when the street is down to only one deli.

I LOVE his sweater! It looks like one of those great old Dean's of Norway ones. You can still get something like that at LL Bean.

Down to 1 Deli? What about Weiss?

I'm alwyas sorry to hear of any good food place closing but in all honesty, Jacks took the prize for the best with Attman's as first runner up IMHO for what that's worth.

A couple years ago, I reviewed pastrami sandwiches at all three of the delis on Corned Beef Row.

Attman's tasted great, but cost a lot and you had to wait in line for a while to get it.

Weiss was just OK, but much cheaper and you could walk right in and get it (they would pop it in the microwave real quick and hand it to you).

Lenny's was the go-between. Good but not awesome, not too long of a wait, tasted good. They had good latkes, too, if I remember correctly.

I will surely miss Lenny's as they not only have great food but also some of the most colorful characters that ever walked into a deli. John Waters could find enough material there in a week to construct his next screenplay, LOL

I am the owner of Lenny's of Lombard Street. The article is incorrect. We just signed a 5 year lease to stay on Lombard Street. After that we will see. The museum needs to raise enough money to do what they need. However it will take a long time for this to occur. When they finally do raise the money, Lenny's will move somewhere in the neighborghhod and continue to serve all of our great customers. Thanks for your support!!


I remember going to cornbeef row as a small child. My memory is lots of black and going store to store. You bought different things at different stores. I remember being with my mother so she was shopping for my grandmother. I also remember mom buying the candy made of nuts havla? and telling us this was the oldest type of candy.

Alan, thank God! I had a corned beef samich there yesterday, and I'll see you at lunch time again today.

Do I want another corned beef samich or perhaps the 4 wings and fries deal?

Whenever I had a friend in the hospital for a long stay I would go to Jacks'/Lennys' and buy a corned beef on rye with mustard to give them a break from the hospital food. It's good to know they will still be around!

aw nuts! i'm gonna have to walk over there today for lunch after reading all of this . perhaps i'll do my own review of corned beef row's pastrami offerings.

mr. burns: use an open faced club, man! a sand wedge!
homer: mmmmmmmmmmm... open faced club sandwich...

I have vivid memories of going to Corned Beef Row as a child with my Dad on Sunday mornings before the Colts' away games -- when the area was known by a less-pc name. We'd buy freshly sliced corned beef and swiss cheese, rye bread and wonderful whole kosher dill pickles from big barrels out on the street. Some of the stores had live chickens in cages on the sidewalk so you could select which one you wanted for a truly fresh chicken dinner!

I haven't posted in a while-- I think my last one was on Burger Chef and god-- but does anybody else remember Stone's Bakery on Lombard? The thought of their eclairs, strawberry shortcake, and elephant ears still makes my mouth pang and water.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland wishes to stress the fact that despite its acquisition of the Lenny's property on Tuesday, August 18, 2009, the Museum will be leasing the building back to Lenny's Deli at least until 2013 when we hope to begin an expansion project. We look forward to enjoying a mutually beneficial relationship with the Deli for years to come.
Simone Ellin
Director of Marketing
Jewish Museum of Maryland

I've never walked into Weiss. It always looks closed.

My mom worked there when I was a small child and it was Jack's. Whenever I was in there, "Fat Jack" would let me come in his office and give me a dollar bill. There were a bunch of wonderful people that worked there back then and I miss them all. To thiis day corned beef is one of my favorite comfort foods.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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