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Owner of LA's Iconic Canter's Deli Dies of Sudden Heart Attack

Co-owner Gary Canter was 58 years old

Outside Canter’s Deli on Fairfax Avenue.
Canter’s Deli
Courtesy Canter’s
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Gary Canter, one of the most recognizable men in Los Angeles’s Jewish deli scene, has died. His family has co-owned and operated Canter’s Deli on Fairfax for generations, and Gary Canter himself was often a fixture of the place.

Canter’s Deli was originally founded in 1931 in Boyle Heights (then the Jewish center of Los Angeles), after the Canter family migrated from the East Coast to escape the ravages of the Great Depression. The restaurant’s current site, a large, prominent plot of land right in the middle of bustling Fairfax, didn’t come online until 1953.

Throughout all those decades, the Canter family continued to co-own and operate the popular Jewish deli. Canter’s has since become synonymous with late nights and Hollywood fame, as plenty of stars have made the place their regular stop over the years. That includes everyone from Tommy Lasorda to Guns N’ Roses, with plenty of film and television scenes shot inside the restaurant over the years as well.

The Blast was the first to report the news of the passing, after a family member posted to Gary Canter’s personal Facebook page that he had died of a “massive heart attack” last night. Gary Canter was 58.