73-year-old Queens deli closing; owner blames bike lanes for demise

REGO PARK, Queens -- For 73 years, Ben's Best Delicatessen in Rego Park has been serving up some of the best classic deli dishes in Queens, becoming a staple along Queens Boulevard, but despite its reputation, the eatery will shutter its doors by the end of the month.

At the helm of the kosher deli is Jay Parker, whose father originally opened the business and passed it along to him in the 1980s.

"There doesn't seem to be a future," Parker said.

The culprit? Not a big-box competitior or the inevitable rent increased. But rather, Parker said, a wide and very green bike lane outside the deli.

"I don’t’ understand how you can justify moving 200 plus parking spots, just take them away, in favor of a bike lane with a questionable amount of traffic," Parker said.

According to him, ever since the Department of Transportation implemented the protected bike lanes along Queens Boulevard, as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative, his business has taken a 25 percent hit in recent.

A bulk of his customers, Parker said, relies on cars and now have limited options when visiting the deli.

"I have had customers have their cars towed out of here, so you come for a really nice pastrami sandwich and you end up with a $115 ticket," Parker said.

In an effort to combat the limited parking, the deli launched social media campaigns, pushing promotions and discounts, and offered curb-side service.

But, according to the owner, the bike lane proved to be a force to be reckoned with.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation highlighted the drop in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities along Queens Boulevard, which has been zero since 2015.

The Boulevard's redesign, according to the DOT, has resulted in the loss of just 10 parking spots and the block in question is well-served by a nearby subway station and bus stop.

But that isn't enough for Parker.

"The concept of neighborhood seems to elude this mayor," he said. "You know, like what’s good for Long Island City, isn’t good for Rego Park."

Ben's Best will serve its final pastrami on rye on June 30.