WOODMERE, OH - Corky and Lenny's Deli has been a beloved institution for over six decades. But now, after 67 years of serving the community, the doors are closing for good. We sat down with Amanda Kurland, co-owner of Corky and Lenny's, to discuss the impact of this closure on the family and the community.
"From a very personal standpoint, this has been about keeping my husband alive," Amanda Kurland shares, her voice filled with mixed emotions. "I was so worried about it killing him. I'm really relieved that he finally made the decision that was best for his health.", she added. Kenny, the son of Sanford 'Corky' Kurland (co-founder of the restaurant) and Amanda's husband, is devastated by the closure. "This place has been his whole life," Amanda says, her eyes filled with empathy.
Reflecting on the response from the community, Amanda shares, "The response has been overwhelming. People seem to understand why we had to make this difficult decision. They've shared their memories and appreciation for what Corky and Lenny's has meant to them."
The restaurant industry has always been challenging, but changing times and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have further intensified the difficulties. "People are reevaluating their priorities," Amanda explains. "The giant Baby Boomer population that took off during Covid and realized 'hey this isn't so bad' and they didn't come back to work", she added. "Then you have the millennials who are known for prioritizing family life over making money; and how can I put that down when that's what we're doing, it just took us a lot longer to get there".
Despite the closure, Amanda and Kenny are exploring the possibility of reopening Corky and Lenny's in a different format. "We've been considering focusing on take-out or catering," Amanda reveals. "We want to keep the legacy alive."
The closure also affects the employees who have become like family over the years. Amanda acknowledges their loyalty and says, "Our employees, they're like family too. It's been their livelihood for many years."
Corky and Lenny's is not just a business to the Kurland family; it has become a part of their own heritage. Amanda reflects on the generations of customers who have passed through their doors, saying, "We've been honored to be a part of countless special moments, from first dates to weddings, from real estate deals to after bris luncheons. Corky's has been there, and we've been proud to serve the community."
As the deli bids farewell, one immediate change will be Kenny's ability to celebrate his upcoming 60th birthday outside of the restaurant's confines. "It's a milestone we're excited to celebrate away from these walls," Amanda shares, a glimmer of anticipation in her eyes.
While the doors may be closing, the spirit of Corky and Lenny's will continue to live on. From the old pieces of furniture and memorabilia that hold the memories of the deli's rich history to the massive kitchen that stands as a testament to years of hard work and dedication, the legacy of Corky and Lenny's will forever be cherished.
As the Cleveland community says goodbye to this iconic establishment, the impact it has left on the hearts and taste buds of its patrons will endure. Corky and Lenny's Deli will be remembered not just as a place to eat, but as a place that brought people together.