An Old West End restaurant is closing its doors for the second time.
Pumpernickel’s Deli & Cafe, 2489 Collingwood Blvd., will close at the end of the day Feb. 28. Owner Dennis Lange, 65, said the restaurant suffered in recent years from a general lack of business.
“We just weren’t busy enough to pay the bills, pay the overhead,” he said. “I have to do something different so I can pay my bills.”
Pumpernickel’s, which serves sandwiches, soups, and salads, originally opened in 1995 in a space nearby now occupied by Black Kite Coffee. Mr. Lange sold the business in 2005, and it closed soon after. He reopened the cafe in the same row of buildings in 2015 after prodding from friends and neighbors.
Mr. Lange said the area used to be thriving with numerous active businesses and agencies.
“When I was here before, every one of these storefronts was filled,” he said.
He had hoped to be one of the businesses to help reinvigorate the neighborhood — and it is growing again, he said — but “it’s just not fast enough for what I needed to maintain what we’re doing.”
“We’ve had some really great days, but then we’ve had some really, really bad days, and they just didn’t even out to make things work,” he said. “I’m sad to be doing it, but it’s a necessity that I have to move on for me.”
Aside from Mr. Lange, who plans to continue a catering business, two servers and a part-time cook and dishwasher will be affected by the closure.
Marge Dottling, a longtime friend of Mr. Lange, has been a server at both the original and the reopened Pumpernickel’s. The 81-year-old woman said she is sorry to see the business fold.
“It’s very sad. I enjoy working for Dennis. I enjoy the contact with people,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of people here. It’s been fun.”
She said customers used to line up down the street to eat at the original Pumpernickel’s, but she isn’t sure what changed between then and now. Mr. Lange speculated that people’s eating habits have changed as their schedules have gotten busier.
The original restaurant got 70 percent of its business from eat-in customers, with the remaining 30 percent from carry out. Those figures essentially swapped after the reopening, which Mr. Lange thinks may be because people have less time for lunch.
“They don’t take the hour, they take a half-hour,” he said. “Or they do get an hour but they’ve got errands to run.”
Mr. Lange said he has known for some time that he would likely have to close Pumpernickel’s again. The decision to make it at the end of this month was made easy because that’s when the restaurant’s license expires.
Until then, the restaurant will continue to be open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
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