Kahn’s Deli Quietly Calls It Quits After 67 Years in the Rice Village

Kahn's Deli, 2429 Rice Blvd., Rice Village, Houston

Kahn’s Deli was open at 2429 Rice Blvd. for more than 30 years. Now it’ll be closed at that location for at least the same amount of time. The deli’s history stretches back well before the move to that spot in 1984, though: The original Kahn’s opened in 1948, a few blocks away. The last pickles were served yesterday.

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The space won’t be vacant for long, however. Evan Turner and investor Sharif Al-Amin, who worked together at Branchwater Tavern, bought out the lease, and plan to reopen the space as Helen’s Greek Food and Wine in mid-July. Turner came up short on a Kickstarter he had begun in March to raise $35,000 in seed capital; he’s now teamed up with Al-Amin instead. Turner tells the Houston Press‘s Phaedra Cook that the planned switchover won’t require permits: “We’re just transferring the DBA. Most of the work is cosmetic and swapping out a few pieces of kitchen equipment.”

Photo: Swamplot inbox

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27 Comment

  • IIRC Kahn’s was started by an old guy, then his son ran it, then it was sold a while back(5-10 years ago?) to a couple new guys.

    I went a couple times and it was like $16+ a sandwich. I hinted to the owners that that was expensive for a sandwich & they told me ‘fresh ingredients, artisanal bread, blah’….Never went back and spend my $16 at Pappadeaux.

  • (insert tortured screams of agony here)

  • Damn. They had my favorite Reuben. I knew something was wrong when we went there a couple of weeks ago and they were out of most kinds of bread. And the counter guy seemed extra sad. I still miss Alfred’s.

  • Its obvious, now… the inner loop is dying. We need a genesis of sorts inside the loop. We need to go boldly where no one has gone before. We need to to make space for the final frontier: more surface parking lots.

    -khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

  • KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!
    .
    (I’m the first? Really? :)

  • It was called Alfred’s, and it was across the street, where Fleet Feet is now.

  • The Kahn family may have spent 67 years in the Village in total, but the other “location” was Alfred’s.
    http://blog.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/2010/04/alfreds-of-houston/

    I think it was back when Jones Apothecary closed and was renovated into whatever it is now, you could briefly see an old exterior wall painted with the Alfred’s logo. Of course it was soon gone. But for those few weeks, it was a nice, surprise reminder of the old Village!

  • We used to eat at Alfred’s on Stella Link almost weekly. My mom swore that he had the best cheesecake she’d ever had.
    .
    I remember having to walk through the deli section to get a table in the back, and then only ever eating the chicken soup, and that my mom and sister used to eat the pickled tongue sandwiches. I was never adventurous enough to try it.
    .
    I was too young to understand why we stopped going when they closed this location, but I wasn’t too young to remember where it was. Many years later when I drove by the location, noticed where I was, the smells and sounds of eating there all rushed back to me.

  • To simper fudge. The “old guy” has a name and it is Alfred Khan. His son ran the deli in the village while Sr continued to run the restaurant of many years on Stellalink next door to CarlSams Jewler. Life was simple and food was really good. If you’ve ever had a cold in Houston the medicine was Alfred’s Chicken Noodle Soup. The sandwiches were the best of the best and had more meat on them than you’ll find on any hamburger in the country.
    The art of what Alfred Sr and Jr gave to Houston will never be duplicated. Today we have chain restaurants and fast food and now the Montrose restaurants are being replaced by yuppie driven high dollar small portion only eat there once and then they to will close leaving the memories of yet another fail business that has driven away the memories of humans creating meals instead of Sysco salesman selling them for you and I to have to consume.
    Support your neighbor and eat at his place for he’s keeping the neighborhood alive.

  • Alfred Kahn also had a location in the Stella Link shopping center ( North east corner of Loop 610 South and Stella Link. Excellent Jewish soul food…

  • Lived here nearly my entire life and never heard of it. Have even driven past it several hundred times, and never noticed it. I love mom-and-pop places, but they have to advertise to let people know they exist.

  • My parents took us to Alfred’s on Stella Link for lunch one Saturday in 1964 or 65, and we had all Kosher beef kid hot dogs. Then, we all went to see the movie “Mary Poppins.” I will never forget this day. I fell in love with Alfred’s then! Later, they opened Alfred’s in Memorial, on West Belt in Town & Country Village in 1968-69 or something, and they had a wonderful bakery. We always got our family birthday cakes there…. and the almond croissants!

  • My mother also graduated from Rice Institute in 1959, so she had a thing for going down the street to eat at Alfred’s, I suppose.

  • This area could use a mattress store.

  • @Mitch: Rice Village has 4 mattress stores.

  • To be accurate with history, Kahn’s was originally opened by Mike Kahn, son of Alfred Kahn, who had Alfred’s in the Village that opened in 1948 direcly across the street. The two, besides being owned by members from the same family, had nothing to do with one another. i know this because I knew Alfred Kahn very well, my Grandfather giving Alfred his first Deli job when coming over to this country from Poland. So, Kahn’s is closing after 30 years, which opened a few years after Alfred’s closed in the Village. The first deli was not Kahn’s. Thanks

  • I will say that I have driven by many times, but never tried this place in the village. As to those who are reminiscing about the place, I’m reminded of The Frogger episode where Mario’s Pizza Parlor closes. George and Jerry reminisce about how they loved this place in high school and the owner grouchily says something to the effect, “If you loved it so much, why haven’t you been back?”

  • @Fernando: I can’t reply for all Kahn’s lovers, but my wife and I were there two weeks ago, and we ate there about once or twice a month for the last few years. I went for lunch on the weekends, and it was usually empty. My wife wasn’t as fond of it as I was. She preferred it before they remodeled.
    .
    They made a great Reuben. I’m looking for one to replace it, so if anyone has suggestions post them here. We went to Kenny & Ziggy’s on Saturday. Their Reuben is bigger than my head. Tasty, but way too much for my purposes.

  • I remember my dad taking me to the Stella Link Alfred’s in the late 60s- dad was a NYC refugee and Alfred’s was home to a guy from the Bronx. I remember to this day the “delicacies” they had on the shelves like chocolate covered grasshoppers…. a wonderous place for a kid with an imagination who learned to love pumpernickel and pastrami thanks to them.

  • Used to live in the area when I was a student- also never heard of it. Sounds way to pricey for ordinary people to eat at on a regular basis if a sandwich was indeed $16.

  • The Stella Link location seems like it didn’t close a terribly long ago but I’m realizing now that 15-ish (or is it even 20??) years is plenty long. That location is an O’Reilly’s now.

  • @Houstonian: Sandwiches weren’t really $16+. A “small” Reuben (1/3rd pound) was $10. Sure, Subway would be a better choice if you don’t have much money and don’t need much flavor, but if you don’t have much money, just make some baloney sammiches at home.

  • Mike Kahn ran this place starting in the 80’s, because he didn’t want the full deli like his dad Alfred had, he just wanted a sandwich shop. There were plenty of pictures of Alfred and Mike together putting the sandwich place together. Those sandwiches were made with love and didn’t cost $16. His giant half pound Reuben was $9 back when he ran the place – and I took half of the sandwich with me and had the rest the next day. I got to know Mike and his wife after a letter I posted to the Chronicle got them a spike in business – they were great people just trying to make others happy with good honest food. Sadly when Mike retired and sold it, the new owners spent tons of money trying to make it a fancy place and they hammered the prices. It was nice that they took credit cards and expanded the menu, but the higher prices didn’t help with bringing people back and you didn’t feel like they cared about the food as much. Sad to see them go but yes, we quit going a while back.

  • My fiance and visited it for the first time and honestly I wasn’t impressed by their sandwiches. It was okay but Carter and Cooley’s and Central Market are better.

    Rice Village will desperately use that new mattress store though.

  • “Kahn’s Deli was open at 2429 Rice Blvd. for more than 30 years. Now it’ll be closed at that location for at least the same amount of time. ”
    .
    That is quite possibly the worst opening I have ever read.

  • No, they called it quits after a couple of years, having bought a brand ruined by the owner who bought it from Mike Kahn. They changed the corned beef and pastrami from Thumann’s (the best commercial brand in the COUNTRY) to Hogshead and the quality of the Reubens dropped like a rock. They finished the complete destruction of the character of the spot started by the second owner, and they made it look cheap with that ugly red counter.

    Kahn’s hasn’t been close to what Mike had, other than six months of the second owner’s era, in a long time. They were running on name and rep for too long, and needed to go. The place was an insult to a once amazing deli. Good riddance.

  • REO,

    Mike Kahn sold to a woman with zero restaurant experience, who was conned by the owner of Bronx Bar into making him “managing partner”. He proceeded to run the place into the ground until they hired a manager that had the balls to get rid of him (that would be me). I turned it around for a while (I would call Mike and ask for advice), but the owner wouldn’t listen to people with restaurant experience, and made all sorts of really dumb decisions (like staying open until eight on weekdays – we’d be lucky to sell $100 after 4pm, and that didn’t even cover two people behind the counter). The only decent idea she had was brunch on weekends, and that only worked because I hired someone that actually could cook to replace the person the owner hired, who was a complete idiot. Oh, and gelato and espresso. I have no idea why. There’s a freaking bakery with coffee next door.

    After a while, she and I finally had it out and she replaced me with a drug addict from her rehab center. That person was found surrounded by empty wine bottles and an empty bottle of Xanax, passed out, when the morning people showed up to open. So, she handed it to a moron I tried to fire twice, a dude that didn’t understand you can’t touch money then go make sandwiches without first washing your hands (that’s what I tried to fire him for, after I told him several times what hygiene was) and was consistently rude to customers. It wasn’t much longer after that all of the progress I had made with the quality of product, cleanliness, and connecting with the local businesses after they were alienated by the Bronx Bar guy was lost, and the place started falling off again.

    The two guys that bought it from her, and shut it down, were nice enough, but they were kind of clueless about the history of the place, and what the community expected from it. And they used crappy product (Boar’s Head is great for the house, but it isn’t what I expect in a $16 Reuben). They didn’t get it, and now they don’t have it.