Zucky’s Delicatessen

Zucky’s Deli was located out at the corner of Wilshire and 5th Street out in Santa Monica and as I write this, it still is. At least, the building is. It’s been empty since 1993 while the owners of the land and others who consider the place an example of significant historic decor discuss what to do with the place. This strikes me as an odd discussion. I don’t recall the architecture and design being that special and the food certainly wasn’t.

Opened in 1954 by Hy and Frederick Altman, it was named for Hy’s wife, whose maiden name was Wolfine Zuckerman. She was often called “Zucky,” as if it rhymed with “rookie.” I did not know that during the years I dined at Zucky’s but I know that now.

The main (for me, only) appeal of Zucky’s when I used to go there was that it was open 24 hours so it was a great location to take your date for ice cream or a snack after you took her to one of the movie theaters out on Third Street. It was also “the” place for breakfast and sometimes lunch for folks who worked in Santa Monica. It struck me as a restaurant that wasn’t very good but it drew a crowd for lack of alternatives. When better places to eat opened in the neighborhood, Zucky’s floundered. I have some fond memories of going there but because of the people I was with, not because of the business establishment.

62 Responses to Zucky’s Delicatessen

  • Pat says:

    I remember Zucky’s from the late ’50’s when friends of mine and I used to go there before or sometimes after hitting the beach. Pretty good food, but when you’re in your teens, it really doesn’t matter that much. The thing was having a good time and a good lunch for a reasonable price and that was our usual trip to Zucky’s.
    My friends and I were from three different high schools… Uni, Samohi, and St. Monica’s, but the beach at Santa Monica and Zucky’s were our common grounds.
    If you want that deli atmosphere again and really good food, Izzy’s is a must. It’s right up the road on Wilshire and 15th.

  • Samuel Janovici says:

    In the 1960’s to the mid 1970’s Zucky’s was the only place still serving food after 9:00 pm in all of West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Iconic? Certainly, it’s from a time when we could drive almost anywhere in L.A. in about a half hour. That the zenith our great city’s car culture. The food was marginal, but it was the one place a person could get a booth and some eats on date night. It’s sad to hear that the property owners are sitting on a great location and leaving it vacant. L.A. is swamped with great chefs and cooks. It is a crime to leave the place empty, when it could be up and going with new recipes and ideas, and the owners could still keep the original look of the place intact.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Pretty quickly our moderator can add Billy’s Delicatessen, to his list of reviews RTATA (restaurants that aren’t there anymore. A fixture in downtown Glendale for nearly seventy years closed June 3. It had passed its prime by the time I moved to Glendale thirty years ago, and seldom did I go there. But it retained its 1940s look, and had great murals of a bygone Glendale. I expect that it will be torn down to make way for another high-rise project, a thing the city council seems to want to do with every parcel of land that comes available. Am I bitter? Kinda, yeah.

  • John Hindsill says:

    Re: my last comment–high-rise should really be HIGH DENSITY project, but probably it’s the same thing.

  • John G says:

    In the 80s -chicken in a pot-now that was good!

  • John Hurley says:

    I went there several times in the 80’s. Nice place. I remember that a buddy of mine had a taste for one of their sandwich’s late on a Friday night while on a big load. He lived on Westgate, below Santa Monica. He decided to drive over for that sandwich. Turned into the most expensive sandwich he ever had. That was his third, and final, DWI. Took the bus thereafter.

  • bill johnston says:

    used to go to zuckys at about 3am for one of their breakfasts after drinking at all the english pubs in santa monica. all the brit people would head for there on a saturday night…..great days in 1968 till 1975…..

  • Maureen Davidson Umbaugh Decker says:

    Gosh where do I begin… The year was 1968-1969. I went to Saint Monica’s High School. Graduated 1969.My dear friends Ann Hummer, Marie Daspit, Jackie Anderson were all good friends, And we all would go to Zucky’s to have the best food. We were young and after doing what young girls do…. We would always end up at Zucky’s. I remember Ann Hummer’s Dad would for the most part be sitting at the front counter….We would come in and he would say “What have you girls been up to?” Always we would say nothing and go to the back booths and have something we all loved. For me I loved the Hot Pastrami plus I loved Rye toast with lemon juice on top! Still do to this day! But most of all it was a place we could go and feel safe! I will never forget the good times their!

  • Neal Sevieri says:

    Wow, back in the 70’s i used to go to Zuckys and see many actors and actresses of the day there. Breakfast was so-so but edible even at the cost. I used to work at Greyhound on 5th st. which today is not there. I was a bartender at the Billiard Den and used to go there after i got off work. Used to be a skating rink there too, near the bar where i worked. Good times.

  • AF_Vet says:

    When we lived in Santa Monica in the early 60’s, Dad took me to Zucky’s every Sunday morning after Mass at St Monica’s. Dad grew up in NY and knew of every deli within 5 miles of his house. To him, this was a great restaurant where he could enjoy some of the food he ate as a kid. For me, it was a wonderful restaurant where the waitresses spent time at the table talking to me during slow times.

    I was hooked on their soups and sandwiches; breakfast was always good.

    It was one of the ‘go to’ restaurants along with Sweet Sixteen,The Broken Drum, Ships, Sorrentinos, Forum Cafeteria, and The Pantry. Sadly, I think only The Pantry is still around.

    Sniff …

  • Kay Divant says:

    Our gang of friends all lived in Santa Monica and we were UCLA undergrads in the late 60s early 70s and invariably after being out till all hours dancing or coming from late film festivals or parties would end up at Zucky’s in the wee hours for the great great pastrami and corned beef deli sandwiches etc etc. At the end–no matter how stuffed– I always ordered the hot apple dumpling with nutmeg sauce! We went to Zucky’s for weekend breakfast or weekend brunch. It was an institution bar none!

  • Kay Divant says:

    correction “apple dumpling with brandy sauce”

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