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.

106 Responses to Zucky’s Delicatessen

  • Alfred Seaman says:

    Real mashed potatoes .

  • Pam says:

    Watching 1951 movie “M”, a remake of the Fritz Lang classic. In the background of one scene was Zucky’s. 1951, not 1954.

  • Robert Vee says:

    The sign is still there. It sits over a bank. Zucky’s – gone too soon.

  • Randall Gausman says:

    Pea soup with rye bread, hot turkey sandwiches, corn beef sandwiches, and Ruben sandwiches. The 1950’s and 60’s! My grandparents would take me there for dinner. I loved it!! I’m 70 now and would love to go back there for the pea soup and hot turkey sandwiches. Why is it that the best of our past days doesn’t endure. Today’s generation doesn’t know what they are missing. Zucky’s was the best!!!

  • Jeffrey Rosen says:

    Hy & Freddy were cousins of my mother, Roselyn Rohrlich Rosen, whose mother, Betty Rohrlich was an Altman. My mother went to school with “Zucky.” Our family had deep roots in Los Angeles’ deli history. My grandfather, Emil Rohrlich, owned the Gotham Deli at Hollywood Blvd & Sycamore during the 30’s & 40’s…one of the 3 great deli’s of that era (along with Canter’s and Greenblatt’s). Other cousins, the Duckers, had several delis in the San Fernando Valley for many years.

  • Glenn Steinberg says:

    Our go to place late at night…..in the70’s.

    I once had a chicken salad sandwich and got sick from it…but I still loved Zucky’s.

  • Shawn says:


    I used to go there with my family as a kid in the 1980’s and my mom and I still share the good memories. If you are willing to mail one of those ashtrays, please email me at sikerkhoff@icloud.com. That would be awesome ! Thank you.


  • Rita says:

    I have 2 Zucky’s ash trays “borrowed” in the 60’s. Not sure why; none of my friends smoked. If anyone wants one, let me know. I can mail it.

  • Sovereign says:

    This is the first place I ate at when I moved to LA in January 1972, and I loved it forever after. Contrary to the intro, they did have good food, especially the breakfasts. And, also contrary to to the intro, although they didn’t do as well under the new owner, the ADA is the reason they closed, not for lack of business. Their problem was that the restroom was accessible only by climbing a high, steep staircase, something not allowed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. They were ordered to make major changes to make it more accessible, and it would have cost them a fortune to do that.

  • Stephanie J Meadows says:

    OH! Zucky’s!!! I was heartbroken when I had driven by there a few years ago and found it all boarded up! This was the place my friends and I went to all during high school back in the late ’60s early ’70s. It was the go-to place after a movie in Westwood and we’d sit at a booth eat, drink coffee and smoke cigarettes until midnight and on. Zucky’s was open 24 hours! It has such memories for me!

  • Brad Dorset says:

    I worked as a waiter at Great American Food & Beverage Co. early ’79. Met Rickie Lee Jones there. She lived nearby. I remember walking to Zucky’s with her one night,after she played her (about to be released) initial Album for me in her cottage-like abode on a small Panasonic? system with small,round speakers. I was so overwhelmed by this warm,brilliant woman I honestly cannot tell you what I ordered at Zucky’s, although I certainly enjoyed it.

  • Anthony says:

    Lots of high school era hangout memories from the mid to late 70s. Damn….I forgot I had a hang out diner place. I imagine anyone from between Venice and the Palisades or Brentwood ate there at some point. I recall the waitresses being not too nice (Likely because we were kids amd not big tippers)

  • Pistol says:

    March 1980, Pastrami and Swiss Omellette,

  • Michael Boltwood says:

    In the early 60s my family would have a meal at Zucky’s after church at St Augustine’s Episcopal church on 4th. At the church we called Zucky’s the “second parish “. Zucky’s was where I learned to love hot pastrami on rye At this moment many years later I am sitting in Manny’s Deli in Chiagco. All because of Zucky’s.


  • JAKE says:

    My aunt worked there. I remember seeing David Brenner there when I was a kid in the late 70’s.

  • Mary Lee Turton says:

    The BEST rare roast beef on rye, pickle and coleslaw! I still use their coleslaw as the standard where ever I eat. It’s rare I ever find anything even close! I was raised in Santa Monica, shopped on 3rd St. and ate at Zucky’s. Saw movies at the Criterion Theatre, Grant School, John Adams, Samohi, rode the carousel on the pier and spent countless summer days on the beaches and at POP. Such fond memories!!! In later years, I was in Newport Beach, but whenever I went to see my mom, we always ate at Zucky’s. I miss it!

  • Jo Zaumseil says:

    As much as Wilshire has evolved, one of my fondest memories in the late 1970,s was a chocolate egg creme at Zucky’s.

  • Mel says:

    Is anybody able to tell me what kind of uniform the waitresses at Zucky’s wore? Preferably during the early 80’s (83-85). I’m writing a short story and I’m thinking of having one of my characters work as a waitress there. Never been to America, so any additional info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Mario says:

    Zuckis un locale magnifico e un’atmosfera molto californiana parlo del 1985

  • Deborah Johnson says:

    I remember having the Zucky’s special often in the 60’s and 70’s. I have yet to find a deli sandwich anywhere I’ve travelled to rival that one. Great memories.

  • Anthony Agoglia says:

    Zucky’s…me, Kenny Kastner, Jim Thibo..every Friday and Saturday night after whatever trouble we were up too! Lotta laughs in this place!

  • Nick Ramus says:

    Zucky’s…it really was a home away from home! My family, step mother Betty and I spent wee hours of the morning having coffee and an early breakfast. We talked everything out across a Zucky’s table. We all smoked and drank lavish amounts of coffee! Zucky’s has great coffee for a non-Barrista pot of American Joe! We saw so many entertainment personalities that is was the norm rather than the exception. We lived on 4th and Montana in Santa Monica. I went to Santa Monica College and Apprentice Chef at the Century Plaza Hotel! After my Apprenticeship I began working as a chef all over the world! I spent my last 20 years working based out of a Food Corporation in Texas. I would travel all over the country doing special event catering so I never returned home to Santa Monica but Zucky’s was not too distant from my happy memories. I am sorry to see Zucky’s disappear to history!i am so glad for the opportunity to send Zucky’s to memorialized digital units!

  • Elizabeth S. says:

    Loved Zucky’s! It was always fun for the occasional dinner, or lunch. It was the best thing Santa Monica had for comfort food after late nights in the 70’s when I was a teen . I loved all the kosher style food I had (as I came from a wasp family) . Even when I moved away in college, it was one of the last places I’d visit before returning . When I later married, we’d take my husband’s Uncle to Zucky’s for lunch . I nearly cried when I drove by one day and saw the closed sign.

  • Teresa says:

    What I remember is a softball-sized matzo ball in a bowl of soup! Particularly good in the early morning after a party night in the late 80s.

  • Jim says:

    Additional info on Harry Altman: https://www.werelate.org/wiki/Person:Harry_Altman_%281%29

    Great site and info!

  • Angie says:

    I managed the deli a long time. We had a good time. I left after Fred died. Hello to all the customers and everyone who worked there!

  • Linda Lockwood Morris says:

    When I was in high school, I attended Thursday evening puppetry classes in Miles Playhouse basement at Lincoln (Reed) Park. Afterward, many from this group went bowling at LLO-DA-MAR Lanes and then to Zucky’s. The club sandwich with Russian dressing was my favorite. Originally, we hung out at the Broken Drum, but they weren’t very tolerant of giggling teenagers who didn’t order much and they closed too early. Zucky’s was far more accommodating and the food was better. I still remember the pale quilted artworks that were framed on the walls.

  • Donald Low says:

    I’m Donald Low. I have great and fond memories. In 1970 we used Zucky’s as campaign headquarters for Olive Feifer’s run for Judge and we defeated the incumbent Blair Gibbons.

    I was seated in a booth when one day a kid walks by sporting a “New York Knicks” team jacket. I stopped him and asked where he got it (since I was an avid Knick fan) and he replied “from my Dad who is right behind me.” I stood up and introduced myself to Ernie Vandeweghe, once a star Knicks player, then a renowned physician, and his wife, Colleen Hutchins, a former Miss America and sister of Mel Hutchins, another NBA All-Star.

    Many times I saw Arnie Schwarzenegger in Zucky’s mostly at the take-out counter. He was a monster of a man and we’d watch him stop traffic as he trudged across Wilshire, leaving Gold’s Gym on his way to procure one of Zucky’s famous “liverwurst sandwiches”. Fun to hear him order that delicacy in his heavy Austrian accent, which he miraculously overcame as our splendid Governor.

  • Rob says:

    Zucky’s was one of my go-to places…Sunday breakfast with the “Great White Whale” aka: L.A. Times…I can still taste the awesome corned beef hash with onions and green peppers…two eggs over easy on top…home fries or french fries…toasted bagel and cream cheese and about four cups of hot coffee…about 5 billion calories but oh so delicious…

  • Mark Sanders says:

    My name is Mark Sanders I worked at Zucky’s for 3 years in the early-mid 70’s. What a hoot! I was in my early twenties and I did every job in the restaurant; cook, deli and catering you name it. It was fun to serve some Hollywood legends (i.e. Don Ameche, Vincent Price, Dean Jagger, Richard Widmark, Walter Mathau etc.) and at the time wannabes like Arnold Schnegger, Cindy Williams, Penny Marshall and John Ritter.
    I learned a great deal from the Altman brothers although separately, because they would not sit at the same table together let alone speak to each other, I would have to carry notes from one to the other! What a tragic relationship. Their relationship helped to make me realize at an early age that the burden of hate is great a price to pay for unresolved differences.
    However, I am grateful for my Zucky’s experience it helped me have a fifty year restaurant carrier which continues to this day. As I still run a Jewish Deli in Scottsdale, AZ and I wouldn’t change it for the world! Well, except for a winning lottery ticket! No! Not even then!
    To all of my former customers thanks for the memories!!

  • Ronnie G.. says:

    Hi All…So many memories of zucky’s..from late night hanging w/ my friends after a show..we’d order only a hot chocolate and sit there for hours..and drive the waitress crazy…But mostly breakfasts w/ my dad..He told me the owners who were brothers hated each other.. and never would be in the restaurant at the same time..i thought that was weird..the name came from Hy’s wife..

  • Lynn Nance says:

    My dad taught at Santa Monica High School and would take us kids to Zuucky’s often. We would always get the Zuucky’s Special ! Pastrami , Cole slaw,thousand island dressing on rye or onion roll…..to dye for. We make them to this day. We were just looking to see if the recipe was on line. Or if anyone knows the exact recipe .? What we make is great but I remember the original being really really great. And the dill pickles…. Yum

  • Elizabeth says:

    Loved Zucky’s–always bustling. As a kid, had many meals with my folks and grandparents. Loved their soups and baked apples w heavy cream–their patty melts were incredible and thin sliced pastrami w Swiss, grilled on their rye was the best . The business was sold sometime in the eighties, I think. After that change, things began to go downhill. I remember their front glass door/window was broken and stayed boarded for…years?

    Long before it closed, it was really a great restaurant.

  • Kelly says:

    I worked @ Zuckys in 1980/ 81. What a happening place. Loved it! Always interesting people coming and going! Often wonder what happened to the people I worked with; Mark, Debbie, Steve, Joey, Joanne, Leslie, Gail, Lupe’, Sal, Virginia, Mary. Jerry is up in Canada last I heard!Kelly

  • TIM DURHAM says:

    The guy with the arms is Dov Shif, father of my former CO & trainer, Ari, from the IDF (I’m talking pre- desert- storm era). Both, and me, are long-since retired.

    My fav moment is going with my goy sister-in-law & her “liberal” boyfriend Marty Solomon. I ordered a rueben (how stupid you would be to not, I don’t know), Pat ordered ham & cheese on rye, and Marty ordered tongue.

    When the order came Marty ripped into it and obnoxiously declared that this was the best tongue he ever had. Pat said the ham was stringy. I loved how the mustard blended with the sauerkraut.

  • Sean Reilly says:

    I lived in Santa Monica between 1978 and 89. Spent many evenings at Zucky’s. But during the day, I would drive past Zuckys and there was a man in his 60s? 70?, who sold newspapers there. What caught my eye was the way he moved. (I was a personal trainer) He moved like a young man….or a cat. A tough young man. He was all sinew and probably weighed 160lbs. He wore a wash n wear pork pie hat, blue jeans, and white t-shirt. Regular customers would pull up and he’d give them their LA Times. His genes had given him almost ape like arms that would have looked right on someone who was 6′ 4″ even though he was about 5’9″. He had a wide legged stance as he looked for old customers or new ones. I always thought, I’ve got to meet that guy, I’ll bet he has an interesting story. Well, I never did and I feel the poorer for it. Anybody remember that guy?

  • Sue Jackson says:

    Oh how I loved to go there in the wee hours of the morning after a night of dancing at ‘Studio One’ in West Hollywood. I lived on 4th street and it was on the way home and at 2am the only place open. One particular morning (after Studio One ), I was sitting at the counter having breakfast and Donald Sutherland came in and sat down next to me and we talked all through both our meals. No mention of who he was – was discussed between us but a pleasant conversation and a memory I will never forget

  • Daniel Stehura says:

    I Lived on Main and Hill Street in Santa Monica and I use to walk there for a
    Kinish warmed up and a cup of Tea in the mid afternoon. Across the Street was the House of Pies where my GF would give me a Double Slice of fresh Strawberry Pie with a cup of Great Coffee. In Santa Monica you could park any place, this is before some NATZI on city council thought of removing any freedoms we might have visiting or Living in Santa Monica. Now the good Life is just a memory.

  • Kay Divant says:

    correction “apple dumpling with brandy sauce”

  • 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!

  • 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 …

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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…..

  • 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.

  • John G says:

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

  • John Hindsill says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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