Ella’s Deli, I’ll miss you.

I’m not sure how to describe how I’m feeling. How do you describe 30 years of memories at Ella’s Deli in Madison, Wisconsin? When I saw the line wrapping around the carousel Thursday night, I burst into tears as it finally hit me that Ella’s was closing after 42 years. I called my mom barely able to speak, and she told me to “pull it together” and text Judy to see if I could go help them. Judy and Kenny are long time friends of my parents. My mom took me there with my brother and sister all the time growing up. We would pick up my Godmother who worked at Oscar Meyer at the time and head to Ella’s Deli for lunch. My mom and Judy Balkin became close through mutual friends. I’m not sure how many fried pickles and garden salads with a side of croutons I’ve had there.

Everyone has a story about Ella’s Deli. It’s truly incredible how many lives they touched. Weeks ago I laid in bed reading some of the comments on their Facebook page when they first announced that they’d be closing. Over 2,000 shares and hundreds of comments were written and my eyes filled with tears. So much hard work and love has gone into Ella’s Deli. I’m sad to see it go, but I’m so happy that they reached an enormous amount of people near and far.

The Wisconsin State Journal published a great article in today’s paper. One of my favorite quotes is this:

‘Include Ashley Hebl, 36, among those who are hopeful someone will keep Ella’s alive. She flew in from the U.S. Virgin Islands at 3 a.m. Sunday and was in line at Ella’s by 10:10 a.m. She’ll leave Tuesday. “This was an Ella’s Deli closing trip,” she said.

She follows Ella’s online and saw the Jan. 3 Facebook post announcing the restaurant would close Jan. 21. She was unable to leave home earlier because of hurricanes that damaged her home island of St. John.

When her father, Tom Hebl, a municipal judge in Sun Prairie and former state legislator, married her stepmother, Patty Conrad Hebl, and blended their two families, all the children met for the first time at Ella’s.

“They walked in the door and said, ‘Table for seven,’ and looked at each other and had to laugh because that was the new reality — table for seven,” Hebl said.

Hebl enjoyed one last meal at the restaurant Sunday with her father and stepmother and, like many others, stood in Ella’s parking lot taking photos and videos. Hebl, who has been coming to Ella’s for 30 years, said since she moved away it’s always been the first stop off the plane when she comes to Madison and the last stop before she leaves.’

^ My last meal there wasn’t a salad, but it was the veggie reuben with a side of “award winning” croutons of course.

^ My good friends, Jill and Ryan had one of their first dates at Ella’s Deli in college.

^ Portrait of me. Thank you Judy and Kenny!!!!! XO.

^ Me in 1990 riding the carousel.