The city’s Buildings Department ordered the restaurant shut down after employees of the Consolidated Edison utility company discovered that natural gas had been diverted inside the building before it reached the company’s meter. The deli’s owner, Marian Harper, said she was unaware of the illegal tapping and paid the utility $40,050 for the gas that had been siphoned off over the previous six years.
Repairing the pipes took much longer than Harper had anticipated. In the meantime, the deli remained closed and tenants who lived in the apartments above it went through the summer, fall and into winter without gas for heating or cooking. Heat was finally restored a few weeks ago.
“They got everything fixed,” Nicholas said. “This was the earliest that they could open.”
Little else changed in nearly a year, she said. “It looks the same, same menu. And today, finally, it smells the same. It’s got that beautiful aroma of pastrami and corned beef.”