City Deli will be missed

At the end of July, 2013 the welcoming restaurant at the colorful corner of Sixth & University closes its doors for a final time, but not before the community came to bid it (and its owners) a fond farewell. For almost three decades City Delicatessen has offered a multi-page menu featuring everything from a nosh to a full meal and scrumptious desserts.

It all began with a dream — for years entrepreneurs Alan Bilmes & Mike Wright sought the perfect location for their Hillcrest restaurant. The couple served their first City Deli customers in 1984.

Alan grew up in a Montreal restaurant family, and Mike proudly hails from the farmlands of Minnesota, where he learned basic business practices at his family’s A&W drive-in. After hooking up in Miami Beach, the partners traveled cross-country to paradise where they worked at Shelter Island’s Kona Kai Club. While patiently waiting to build a restaurant of their own, Alan then took a job working for local restaurateur Stephen Zolezzi at La Petite Café on the corner of Fifth & University (now Chocolat).

mike-alanAfter a deal on for their first location choice (west of Jimmy Wong’s) fell through, Alan & Mike learned of a better opportunity at their location in the Kahn Building. It was a perfect fit.

Constructed in 1919 at the height of the Egyptian Revival its frieze originally featured pharaohs, but two years later following a fire, the current cornucopia (initially covered in gold leaf) was added. This corner location has been home to restaurants since 1926. Most famous was Caesar’s, which the Pastori family operated until 1972. Next up was Cavalieri’s through 1978, then new owners struggled with the Summer Place before Mike & Alan opened City Deli’s doors on July 12, 1984, just a little over a month prior to the relighting of the Hillcrest sign (gone now, too).