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Cleveland deli in business for nearly 60 years fears closure after customers' confusion heightens

Barrister's Deli wants to reassure customers it has no affiliation with Karl's Inn of the Barristers, which is closing March 18.
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Posted at 5:45 PM, Mar 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 08:47:25-05

CLEVELAND — Barrister’s Deli in downtown Cleveland has no affiliation with another restaurant, Karl’s Inn of the Barristers. The deli said confusion between customers continues to grow as Karl's Inn is shutting down business in two weeks. Barrister’s Deli fears uncertainty amongst customers could jeopardize business ahead of a busy holiday.

Serving up hardy eats and New York-style deli sandwiches since 1964, Barrister's Deli on Hamilton Avenue wants to keep that tradition alive for another 59 years.

“I come about once a week,” said customer Chris Chumita. “I think the food is really good. I especially love the barbecue sauce and the fries.”

In February, another downtown deli staple that shares a similar name, Karl’s Inn of the Barristers, announced its upcoming closure. Since then, Barrister's Deli catering specialist, Mary Haddad, said customer confusion has taken on new heights.

“Our customers immediately started calling us and coming in and asking us when we will be closing and it’s really made us nervous,” Haddad said.

Location is the main reason both delis have the word "barrister" in their names. Barrister is a British term for a lawyer. Barrister’s Deli was once located across the street from the old courthouse before relocating to Hamilton Avenue, and Karl's Inn is still currently located across from the Justice Center, until it closes in two weeks.

“It just made sense, because of the courthouse,” said Haddad.

Haddad said the confusion has gone too far recently. She said the Downtown Cleveland Alliance even called mixed up.

“We were very shocked because we are members of the Cleveland Alliance and that particular phone call shook me to the core,” Haddad added. “I thought if they have it confused which barrister’s is closing, what about the general public?”

The Downtown Cleveland Alliance said it’s sharing downtown’s sadness in Karl's Inn closing but encourages customers to keep supporting other locally-owned restaurants.

“It’s not one sector of the economy that can support downtown, it all has to be working together as an ecosystem," said Audrey Gerlach, Vice President of Economic Development.

Haddad believes the confusion can potentially put Barrister’s Deli out of business, as catering customers are also calling confused, which is a significant part of the business.

“There’s been a shake-up for sure,” said Haddad.

So Haddad wants to make it clear before Saint Patrick's Day, one of its busiest holidays: “We are open. We aren’t going anywhere.”

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