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Lower East Side Icon Sammy’s Roumanian Restaurant Has Closed

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

Lower East Side Icon Sammy’s Roumanian Restaurant Has Closed

Another NYC icon bites the dust.

The latest restaurant victim of the pandemic is Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse on the Lower East Side, known as a truly “New York” (party) experience bursting with character: from its unassuming basement home to its wide-array of Jewish-American food and ice shots of vodka.

While there was much speculation since it hasn’t reopened since the pandemic began — and, being located in an enclosed basement definitely didn’t make sense for COVID-19 safety measures — the restaurant confirmed the news on their Instagram page on Monday:

“It is with great sadness that we announce that the rumors are true and we have had to shut the doors to the infamous basement,” they wrote.

Sammy’s Roumanian is more than just a restaurant. It’s a community. A celebration of tradition. An experience difficult to put into words. It’s where families come to dine weekly, where partygoers begin their night (if they survive the frozen vodka), and where Simchas are celebrated. It‘s a place where you can be yourself, make friends, discover what a Shiksa is, and maybe even get called out as one too. Above all, it’s a place where everyone feels at home, welcome, and part of a larger family.

The restaurant opened in 1974 in a grungy basement on Chrystie St., but over the years became a go-to spot for partying New Yorkers and celebrity visitors who could  load up on Jewish-American grub and order frozen vodka bottles while listening to comedians and performers, and dancing away in the tight space.

Still, Gothamist spoke to the owners, who told them Sammy’s isn’t dead for good. They hope to bring the restaurant back, though sadly it will not be in the iconic basement location.

“So chins up fellow schmaltzers. All the years of devouring chopped liver with our special schmaltz, schmered on rye bread with a side of pickles and a shot (or glass) of frozen vodka to wash it down will be remembered fondly,” they said. “We may be closed now, but when all this is over and we feel safe enough to hold hands during the hora, we will be back stronger, louder, and tastier than ever before. We are New York. We will survive this. We will always cherish the memories we shared with all of you.”

Cheers to that!

featured image source: Instagram / @famous_sammys

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