Milton Parker, the longtime owner of the famous Carnegie Deli renowned for its gargantuan pastrami, tongue and chopped liver sandwiches with classic names like "Nova on Sunday" and "Fifty Ways to Love Your Liver," has died. He was 90.
Parker, whose business card said Milton Parker CPM — for Corned Beef and Pastrami Maven — died Friday of respiratory problems, said his daughter, Marian Levine.
His family says nothing will change at the legendary Theater District deli where Woody Allen filmed scenes for "Broadway Danny Rose."
"It's the food, the communal tables, the menu," said Parker's son-in-law, Sanford Levine. "That's not going to change."
Over the years the restaurant has developed a devoted following for its oversized sandwiches stuffed with 6 to 8 inches of meat, some costing upward of $20 and named after celebrities like Henny Youngman.
"The Woody Allen," priced at a mere $17.95, is described as "lotsa corned beef plus lotsa pastrami — for the dedicated fresser (Yiddish for big eater) only!"
Parker's daughter said her father loved to eat and used to say that he wanted to die with a hot dog in his mouth. So at his memorial Monday, she held up one of his beloved footlong frankfurters and said: "This is for you, Dad. Enjoy this hot dog."
Parker and two partners bought the deli from its previous owners in 1976. One partner sold his share, and a second, Leo Steiner, died in 1987. Parker retired in 2002 and turned the business over to his son-in-law.
Mourners shared their memories of Parker on the Web site savethedeli.com, a space "dedicated to the preservation of the Jewish delicatessen, a hallowed temple of salted and cured meats."
"In the history of delicatessens, Milton Parker's Carnegie Deli caused more heartburn to the Jewish world than anything I've ever heard of," said Borscht Belt comedian Freddy Roman. "His pastrami sandwich was incredibly much too large for human consumption."
Customer Stu Shiffman added, "I hope that he was buried on white porcelain with a pile of rye and jar of mustard on the side."