Thursday, December 21, 2006

No More Schmaltz in South Florida As Greedy Owners Look To Exterminate The Rascal House

Progress, shmagress. Word today from The Miami Herald that the Rascal House, the venerable Jewish deli/comfort food emporium on Collins Avenue, in what is now called Sunny Isles Beach, will soon be no more.


Seems the town fathers of Sunny Isles Beach, which hasn't even existed for a decade, have something of an edifice complex, as many of the no-frills motels that used to line its part of the oceanfront have been replaced by fancy condos and high-rises.

A similar fate awaits the Rascal House, (above, photo from whose lack of charm is part of its charm. You go for the the copious portions of food, everything from pastrami sandwiches that make the tables sag from their weight to desserts that are a cardiologist's worst nightmare. And those rolls -- small, soft specimens of perfection whose leftovers from the basket the waitress would dutifully bag so you could eat "falayda" -- for later, for the uninitiated.

True, the Jews who would ensure there were lines out the door at the Rascal House almost any time of year are fewer in number, having died off or moved to places like Boca Raton, where the Rascal House made an unsuccessful go of it a few years back. And they weren't replaced by those who now make this part of South Florida home or the perennial vacation spot it used to be for those on a budget.

The last couple of times I went I walked right in without a fuss. Where were the long lines, where you waited according to the size of your party? Something didn't feel right. Still, the restaurant had hung on when its less storied rivals had cooked their last blintz. Now the house that Wolfie Cohen built will soon follow.

Another example of how progress isn't necessarily progressive. Nor will what comes next provide anything that tastes nearly as good as what's been coming out of the Rascal House kitchens since 1954. But tradition will always be trumped by the promise of a well-heeled crowd shelling out millions for their place in the sand.
And speaking about trump, yes, the Donald already has his pawprints in Sunny Isles Beach. That should tell you more than you need to know.

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