A memorial service will be held Monday for Alan Canter, owner of Canter’s Delicatessen, a popular Los Angeles hangout for more than 80 years.
Canter died Friday of natural causes, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. He was 82.
“Our beloved owner, Alan Canter, has passed away at age 82,” read the announcement, which was posted Friday and drew a flood of remembrances and condolences. “He kept his family legacy alive and built an L.A. landmark. He worked 18-hour shifts and took pride in hand-cutting each fruit cup. He taught his children how to run this business just as his father taught him. We are deeply saddened by this loss.”
The 24-hour deli at 419 N. Fairfax Ave. has long been a popular hangout for famous figures in show business, sports and politics. Over the years, Canter’s played host to presidents ranging from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, every Los Angeles mayor from Tom Bradley to Eric Garcetti, international dignitaries such as former Mexico President Vicente Fox and the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, according to the Jewish Journal.
In 2006, the Los Angeles Daily News dubbed Canter’s “L.A.’s kibitz spot” for drawing a colorful assortment of regular diners as well as Hollywood “royalty” ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna and beyond. The Los Angeles Times called Canter’s the “soul of Fairfax Avenue” in a 1999 profile.
On Saturday, Canter’s son, Marc, was hard at work keeping the eatery running smoothly, but took time to share his thoughts on his father’s legacy with a Times reporter.
“He had a big heart and good work habits and good morals,” Marc Canter told The Times. “He ran an institution with 150 employees, 24 hours a day, and made a good name for us. We’re a landmark and institution because of the hard years he put in.”
Alan Canter’s father, Ben Canter, opened the first Canter’s in Boyle Heights in 1931 with two of his brothers. The restaurant was moved to the Fairfax district in the early1950s, with help from Ben Canter’s daughter Selma Udko and her then-husband, Harold Price.
Alan Canter is survived by his wife of 60 years, Elizabeth; son, Marc; daughter, Jacqueline Canter-Schnitman and five grandchildren.
Gary Canter, another of Alan Canter’s sons, who was also heavily involved in the family business, died in December 2017 of a heart attack at the age of 58.
Alan Canter’s memorial service is set for 12:30 p.m. at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive.