LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — After 53 years in business, Junior’s Restaurant will close its doors on Dec. 31 at 5 p.m. due to a rent dispute.
“It’s terrible; this isn’t how you start a new year. It’s right after Christmas,” co-owner Jon Saul said.
Saul, along with his brother Dave, have operated the deli since last year when their father, Marvin died. Marvin Saul opened the Westside staple in 1959 which includes a deli, restaurant, bakery and catering services.
“We tried to get another lease and the landlord wanted to see how things went with us. So, he gave us a six month lease and we went month-to-month,” Jon Saul said.
The economy, along with higher wholesale food prices, hurt the restaurant.
“We told him things were hard and we couldn’t pay the rent, it was pretty high,” he said.
The brothers discussed cutting the diner in half, but due to a lease agreement, the landlord, Four Corner Investments, objected.
“With these guys we’ve always negotiated and we’ve always, always come to an agreement. This time, for some reason, he basically said they don’t want us here,” Saul said.
Junior’s 95 employees were told Wednesday that the deli would be closing next week.
“I’d say more than 50 percent of our employees have been here more than 15 years. It’s a lot of tears,” Saul said.
“This is like a family. This is part of my life. We lost everything,” longtime deli clerk Jose Moreno added.
The brothers want to reopen, but a new location has not been chosen.
“With the employees, we told everyone not to wait for us because it’s going to be six months to a year till we can find something, build something out,” Saul said.
Despite the impending closure, the Saul brothers are offering anyone who comes into Junior’s a free bagel until Monday night.
It is unclear what will replace the Westwood Boulevard restaurant.