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Broadway community tributes to retiring deli owners

Posted May. 02, 2023 07:54,   

Updated May. 02, 2023 07:54


Min Kim (aged 71), who ran the Starlight Deli for 39 years, sobbed in front of his restaurant in the Broadway Theater District of Manhattan in New York, the U.S., on Wednesday. Surrounding him were dozens of regulars, including Broadway actors and theater company officials, clapping and wiping away tears. They had come to say goodbye to the deli ahead of its closure on Friday and to celebrate his new journey.

The Broadway regulars sang “Happy Trail,” a song sung in the U.S. to wish each other good luck when saying goodbye and presented Kim and his wife with a large-framed picture of themselves, each with a note of thanks. During the song, Mr. Kim’s wife wiped away tears with both hands. The old customers also gave the couple $17,839 that they raised for them as a retirement gift. The emotional farewell has gone viral on social media.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim immigrated to New York City in 1981 when he was 29 and opened a deli on 44th Street near Times Square in 1984. The deli served sandwiches, soups, and coffee for a quick bite. The store was open every day for nearly 40 years and became a “home away from home” for Broadway people, and its closing was widely covered by American media, such as CBS and Fox News.

“We would all stay in makeup and sparkles and Starlite would deliver sandwiches and stuff to us. This is the place to go,” said James Monroe Iglehart, who played the original Genie in the Disney musical version of Aladdin, in an interview with Fox News. “Mr. M is absolutely legendary in this industry. We’re all going to miss him so much,” said Nick Forero, a theatrical production manager.

Kim told U.S. media outlets that he was closing the store due to his old age, high rent, and the aftermath of the pandemic. When asked what he wanted to do next, Kim laughed and said, “I want to get some sleep.”

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com