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  • Writer's pictureGremi

Daughter of Corky and Lenny's Writes A Love Letter To The Deli; Commends Her Father

WOODMERE, OH — In a bittersweet announcement that has stirred the community, Corky and Lenny's Deli, a cultural and culinary cornerstone in Northeast Ohio, has permanently closed its doors. For over 67 years, this iconic deli has been more than just a place to dine; it has been a vibrant hub for families, a witness to countless memories, and an integral part of Cleveland's rich history.

photo outside of Corky and Lenny's deli after closing
Photo outside of Corky and Lenny's 12/13/2023 Source: Todd Packer

Founded by Corky Kurland and Lenny Kaden, Corky and Lenny's Deli began its journey at the original Cedar Center restaurant, embedding itself deeply in the city's culinary and cultural heritage. A testament to its significance, a custom painting by David Kutchko from the late 1950s graces the Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society, depicting the founders amidst a scene of bustling activity and mouthwatering food. Donated by Leonard Kaden in 2003, this painting remains a cherished symbol of the deli's legacy.

This acrylic on canvas painting by David Kutchko, depicting owners Sanford (Corky) Kurland (left), Leonard (Lenny) Kaden and plenty of food, was commissioned by the restaurant and deli in the late 1950s. Leonard Kaden gave it to the Western Reserve Historical Society in 2003.
Photo Source: Arnold Berger taken at the Western Reserve Historical Society

The passing of Sanford Kurland in 2011 and Leonard Kaden in 2023 marked the end of an era but not the spirit of the deli. Kenny Kurland, Sanford's son, epitomized dedication and hard work, ensuring the deli's doors stayed open, bustling with loyal customers. Though the future is still quite unknown, Kenny's wife, and restaurant co-owner Amanda Kurland, hinted at a potential future for Corky and Lenny's, possibly in a different, less demanding format, such as a catering business.

Amidst this poignant closure, a particularly touching tribute came from Kenny's daughter, Rachel Kurland, who shared her "Love Letter to Corky and Lenny's" on Facebook yesterday. Her words painted a vivid picture of a childhood and life woven around the deli. From birthday parties to high school celebrations, Rachel's memories highlight the deli as a backdrop to her family's milestones and daily life.

Her letter reads like a mosaic of emotions, from joyous celebrations to simple, everyday moments — all centered around the deli. The affection in her voice is palpable as she recalls her grandmother, Gloria, and the familiar sight of her father, Kenny, at work. These memories, etched in the hearts of many like Rachel, underscore the deli's role as more than a business; it was a living, breathing part of the community.

In her letter, Rachel expresses immense pride in her father for making the difficult decision to close. Describing him as "the most generous and hard-working human being," she reflects on the impact he has had as a father, a businessman, and a community builder. Her words resonate with gratitude and a deep understanding of the weight of this decision.

The closure of Corky and Lenny's Deli signifies more than the end of a business; it marks the end of a communal space that held generations of stories, laughter, and shared meals. As Rachel poignantly notes, the spirit of Corky's will live on through continued community engagement, shared meals, and the indelible memories it has created.

In a community where food and family intertwine, Corky and Lenny's will be remembered not just for its culinary offerings but for its role in knitting the fabric of the community tighter, one meal at a time. As the doors close, the legacy of Corky and Lenny's Deli remains a heartwarming chapter in the story of Northeast Ohio.

While the family, and indeed community, mourn the loss, Rachel expressed her pride in her father for making the difficult decision to close the deli. She described Kenny as the most generous and hard-working human being, a role model, friend, father, businessman, and community-builder. She looks forward to spending more time with him and cherishing their moments together.

The closure of Corky and Lenny's Deli is not just the end of a restaurant, but the end of an era. It is a loss felt deeply by the community, who will forever hold the memories and flavors of the deli close to their hearts. As Rachel said in her letter, as long as we continue to eat well, enjoy each other's company, and give back to our community, Corky's will surely live on in each of us.


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