An iconic deli in the Heights will soon serve its last sandwich.
Carter & Cooley Company Delicatessen, which has been open since 1989 at 375 W. 19th St., will close Saturday afternoon. Owner Neil Sackheim said Wednesday that he is retiring and granting ownership rights to two of the deli’s longtime managers, who he said will not be able to operate at the same location.
Sackheim said Carter & Cooley, which will be open every day leading up to Saturday, plans to be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. or “until we run out of food” on its final day.
“We’ve been working to keep this modest. I’m not trying to conjure up any sympathy or any sort of emotional outburst,” Sackheim said. “It’s not the end.”
Sackheim said he hopes to help the aforementioned managers — Charles Salas and Zena Cortez — reopen the deli at a new location in the Heights within three to six months. Per the lease he signed with Heights developer Radom Capital LLC, which purchased the property from Sackheim last October, he said the restaurant cannot remain there without him.
So it’s the end of an era at the corner of 19th and Ashland Street, where the two-story, 9,703-square foot building has stood since the 1920s. The seven other tenants who leased spaces from Sackheim have vacated since he sold the building to Radom Capital, which has remodeled the property and is securing new tenants.
Radom Capital vice president Barton Kelly did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday afternoon. According to permitting documents on the City of Houston website, Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is named as an occupant for 375 W. 19th St.
Sackheim said he was not asked or encouraged to leave by Radom Capital, but acknowledged the changing face of 19th Street and the Heights in general contributed to his decision to retire. He said that decision was solidified after the annual White Linen Night in the Heights event on Aug. 3, when thousands of people gathered on 19th Street for a community-wide block party.
“It’s out of control,” Sackheim said. “I don’t want to dissuade people from moving into the area and put a black mark on the momentum of the Heights, because the Heights is a wonderful neighborhood. But you get too many people, and it becomes anonymous. You can’t possibly get to know all your neighbors when you have 1,000 people stacked up on one another in an apartment building.”
Still, Sackheim said he plans to continue living in the Heights and manage the homes and apartment buildings he owns. The 63-year-old native of New York said he also wants to travel and has an upcoming trip to Italy planned.
When he closes his deli Saturday and leaves the property for the last time, Sackheim will take 30 years’ worth of fond memories.
“I have over and over again met people that said, ‘Oh, we’ve come here for so many years,'” Sackheim said. “In fact, there was a couple that have been coming for several months now. The said, ‘We met here and would love to get married here. This is our hangout.’ Those are memory makers that will constantly be in my mind.”