Funeral services are expected to be held Sunday for restaurateur Gary Canter, grandson of the founder of Canter’s Delicatessen founder, who died unexpectedly at the age of 58.

Canter was found unresponsive at 7:29 p.m. Tuesday at his residence in the 400 block of South Highland Avenue. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said Canter’s medical history was being verified for the death certificate, but it is believed he died of natural causes.

A statement on Canter’s personal Facebook page says he died from an “apparent massive heart attack.”

A statement posted on the Canter’s Deli Facebook page addressed the loss.

“We are deeply saddened & shocked by his sudden death. Gary lit up whatever room he walked into with his charisma, generosity & kindness. His love for his family, friends and Canter’s deli was profound. Buddy Buddy will be very missed by all,” the post read.

The 24-hour deli at 419 N. Fairfax Ave. has long been a popular hangout for famous figures in show business, sports and politics. Ben Canter and two brothers opened the first Canter’s in Boyle Heights in 1931. According to the company’s website, the restaurant was moved to the Fairfax district in the 1950s, with help from Ben Canter’s daughter Selma Udko and her then- husband, Harold Price.

Gary Canter’s ex-wife, told City News Service that his only child was taking the loss especially hard. Jenifer Alexa Canter, a 26-year-old actress and model, had worked closely in her father’s restaurants from an early age.

“She’s devastated,” Deborah Canter said of their daughter, whom she called “the joy of his life.”

She said her ex-husband — to whom she was married from 1985-99 — had been working hard lately, opening two restaurants in Las Vegas in October, and hadn’t been feeling well.

“I just spoke with him yesterday morning and he told me he was getting better but had a little bit of a flu bug. I don’t think it was the flu,” she said.

The deli’s co-owner, Terri Bloomgarden, who is Gary Canter’s cousin, told City News Service that Canter’s will remain open as usual. She wasn’t sure whether the restaurant would be hosting any memorials.

“It’s all too new,” she said.

“He was a brother, a son, a cousin … Gary was a person with a big heart and a big personality, and he’ll be missed,” Bloomgarden said.

Funeral services are being planned for Sunday at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, according to Canter’s ex-wife.

Ned Colletti, the former Dodgers general manager and currently a senior adviser for the team, will deliver the eulogy, she said. Colletti and Canter were longtime friends who worked together when Canter’s opened a stand at Dodger Stadium for three seasons from 2008-10.


–City News Service

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