It was the great American humorist Mark Twain who first said, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
The same is true of Ben’s Deli in Bayside.
With the clock ticking down the final hours of the kosher-deli institution’s 15-year run in the Bay Terrace shopping center, a deal was crafted between landlord Cord Meyer Development, Ben’s and Panera Bread, which had been slated to occupy the space.
“This is a great Christmas/Hanukkah gift for our customers and staff,” said Scott Singer, President of Ben’s Restaurant Group. “I have a signed lease extension in my hand, and my employees have their jobs.” The lease was to expire on Saturday, January 31.
“We’re happy that it all worked out,” said Cord Meyer spokesperson Mary Hughes.
“Accommodating Panera Bread, Ben’s and their employees is gratifying - in this difficult economy, we didn’t want to see anyone lose their jobs.”
Hughes explained that Panera, the upscale bakery/sandwich shop with 1,200 locations nationwide, “was gracious enough” to exchange the deli location for a space formerly occupied by a FedEx-Kinko’s and Camelot, a home furnishing store. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” she said.
The new location, on Bell Boulevard will have slightly more space than the current Ben’s location.
With a total of eight locations in Queens, Nassau County, Manhattan and Boca Raton, Florida, Singer said of the long negotiations, “I never took any of this personally.”
“I’m glad Cord Meyer found a way to make this happen,” he said.
“We’d love to find a way to thank the hundreds - no, thousands of people who signed petitions on our behalf,” he said, contemplating thank-you notes.
“There was a hefty rent increase - we paid it,” Singer admitted. “Hopefully our customers will keep coming in hungry,” he chuckled.