NEW YORK — New York City's iconic Carnegie Deli is closing its flagship location on New Year's Eve, owner Marian Harper announced Friday.
Harper "emotionally announced the news" to about 25 early shift employees Friday morning, spokeswoman Shin-Jung Hong said in a statement.
“Moving forward, Marian Harper will dedicate and focus her time on licensing the iconic Carnegie Deli brand and sell Carnegie Deli’s world-famous products for wholesale distribution … to keep the Carnegie legacy alive,” Hong said.
Harper described the restaurant business as "one of the hardest jobs in New York City," and cited long working hours as a motivating factor in the decision to close.
“At this stage of my life, the early morning to late night days have taken a toll, along with my sleepless nights and grueling hours. ... I’ve reached a time in my life when I need to take a step back," she said in a statement.
Too emotional and tired to talk publicly about the closing, Levine has been through tough times in the past few years -- a nasty divorce, a federal case over employees' back wages and an illegal gas hookup which shutdown the internationally known deli last year.
But for now, for this world famous deli packed with tourists, it was all about those belt-popping sandwiches.
"I love the pastrami here, they don't have this in Switzerland," Andre Burri, a tourist, told PIX11 News.
And about helping their dozens of employees transition.
Remaining open through the bustling holiday season gives employees three months to find new jobs, and work through a lucrative time of year, marked by a spike in tourism in the city, Hong said.
It also lets the deli will mark a milestone — 40 years since Harper's father purchased it from the original owners.
The Manhattan deli, located at 854 Seventh Ave., first opened in 1937 and was purchased in 1976.
A statement Friday about the closure made no mention of Harper's willingness to sell the popular restaurant.
For 26 years Desmarine Redwood has been serving up Carnegie Deli's world famous $30 pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and $12 slices of strawberry cheesecake to thousands -- and loving every minute of it.
"They make us happy," Desmarine Redwood, the waitress, said. "I love serving the customers here."
While the flagship spot is set to close, Carnegie will still have the following locations: New York's Madison Square Garden, annually at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, Las Vegas, and at The Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Penn.
The popular tourist destination is a few blocks from Carnegie Hall and is best known for its pastrami, corned beef and brisket sandwiches, which are overstuffed with at least one pound of meat.
It has also made pop culture cameos, including scenes from Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose."
In addition, its "famous cheesecakes" can be shipped to dessert lovers across the country by visiting CarnegieDeli.com, Hong stated.
PIX11 News' Magee Hickey contributed to this report.