CHICAGO — Just weeks after being elected president, Barack Obama celebrated with three corned beef sandwiches and some cherry pie at Manny’s Deli.
While the iconic deli has served countless politicians over time, it’s the regulars that have kept them in business for more than 75 years. David Lewis describes it as his “home base.”
“When things were good, I’d be here at least once or twice a week,” Lewis said.
As we all know, things haven’t been good for restaurants for months.
Manny’s put out a tweet asking for help of its own Tuesday: “We are struggling. This isn’t a joke. Support your fav deli for dinner tonight. Thx.”
A day later, Chicagoans answered the call.
“This is incredible. The support of our customers is amazing,” said Dan Raskin, the owner of Manny’s Deli.
Raskin is the fourth-generation owner of Manny’s Deli, and said he hasn’t had a line like the one outside on Wednesday in months,which trailed out the door and around the corner.
“It’s been pretty bad. There are days we went from an average of 1,000 customers a day to 50 customers. So it’s been a tough journey,” Raskin said.
Manny’s opened in the shadow of World War II, serving traditional Jewish delicatessen favorites and more.
“It’s part of what makes Chicago great, this kind of restaurant. You don’t find this in many other places,” said customer Mark Stevens.
While downtown remains something of a ghost town and tour buses aren’t running, Manny’s bread and butter has always been true Chicagoans. Their tables may now be six feet apart, but the energy in the room Wednesday felt like the old days.
Raskin says seeing the hustle and bustle return to his restaurant was heart-warming after a difficult few months.
“This is incredible. The support of our customers is amazing. Don’t just support us today but come back tomorrow, next week and next month after that,” he said. “And not just Manny’s but all small businesses.”