Just over two years after a much hyped opening in Lowry Hill, Rye Delicatessen & Bar abruptly closed its doors Monday, March 31, via a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“Terrible News: We regret to inform you that Rye Delicatessen & Bar is no longer open for business. We are extremely grateful to our exceptional staff and all of the friends that we have made during this journey. Thank you for your support.”
Many of the restaurants fans expressed dismay on Facebook and Twitter, some hoping that it was a one-day-early April Fools joke. But owner David Weinstein said on Wednesday that it was a business decision that he had to make.
“The bottom line is we weren’t consistently busy enough to sustain the amount of effort we were putting in,” Weinstein said. “There were times we were extremely busy and times we weren’t and it wasn’t enough for the number of employees and overhead we had. It’s really unfortunate despite the fact we built a sense of community among our fans.”
The outpouring of support on Facebook and Twitter was both gratifying and sad, Weinstein said.
“The people who came here often and were our regulars really loved this place,” Weinstein said. “The same can be said of the staff. A lot of us got together last night and there was a tremendous feeling of loss and sadness.”
For better or worse, the restaurant was known for being on the receiving end of a scorching review from writer/chef/television host Andrew Zimmern. Two years later, Zimmern upped his grade from “an F of gigantic proportions” to a “strong C+.”
However, in the wake of the closing, Zimmern opened fire again to his 682,000-plus followers:
Weinstein opted to not take on Zimmern.
“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. I’ve decided to take the high road and not get into an online battle,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that there’s a level of venom that’s surprising. I’ve never met or spoken to him and I’m not getting into pointless debate.
“However it really does point to how passionate people are about this type of food and what it should be. A lot of people loved it and a lot had thoughts on how it should be done.”
Weinstein acknowledged why the Jewish-style delicatessen in the Twin Cities has largely fallen flat.
“People often come into a deli and immediately compare it to a memory of somewhere else,” he said. “It can be challenging because you’re competing against memories from around the world or around the country. It’s impossible to satisfy nostalgic beliefs about deli food. Some people say it’s exactly like a deli they’ve been to or that our borscht is wrong because it has carrots. Here they were looking for something that’s familiar.”