Watchung Deli, Home of Countless Montclair Sandwich Memories, Closes

Montclair’s beloved Watchung Delicatessen, first opened in 1926, has closed, joining other Montclair businesses unable to survive the 2020 pandemic.

Watchung Deli posted this message on Instagram Sunday afternoon:

It is with heavy hearts that we share this message with you all.

In the wake of the terrible virus that has taken our world by storm, we were forced to make the very difficult decision to close our doors permanently. We are grateful for the years we were able to serve you and your families and for the friendships we developed with so many of our customers.

Small businesses are the backbone of this wonderful town we live in and we encourage everyone to shop locally during this trying time.

The Watchung Deli family wishes you all a very happy holiday season and an abundance of joy and good health in 2021!

The enduring delicatessen has had many owners since it first opened in 1926, but from 1999 to 2015, it had been owned by two couples — Gary and Maureen Kiffer and Robert and Jeanne Johannsen.

From 1999-2015, Watchung Deli was owned and operated by two couples Gary and Maureen Kiffer and Robert and Jeanne Johannsen.

In 2015, the deli was sold to Peter and Anne von Hoffman who ran it until this month. The Hoffmans continued the traditions of the Watchung Deli, even creating new sandwiches in honor of locals.

Home of the wildly popular “Angry Dwarf” and Benny Mac sandwiches, Watchung Deli became loved for its other sandwiches, Spinach Dip, lox, macaroni salad, seasonal specials, and more.

Watchung Deli had been an iconic lunch spot for countless Montclair High School students over the years, where it was also known as the Skinny Deli.

Back during the blizzard of 2010, Watchung Deli was the only business open. Photo: Traci Churchill
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2 COMMENTS

  1. So sorry to hear that the Watchung Deli is closing. As Director of Guidance at Montclair High School I had many occasions to order the delicious and unique ROUND sub sandwich platters for several student events. GARY was always joking, friendly and particularly helpful in aiding me in that endeavor. Although I haven’t visited the deli recently, I will always have fond memories of the Gary and Robert “team”.

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