Irving Azoff, Hollywood A-Listers Team to Save Legendary Deli Nate 'n Al

Nate'n Al - Getty - H 2019
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The buyers of the Beverly Hills institution include Azoff and his wife Shelli, UTA’s Jay Sures, real estate guru Mike Meldman, NBCUniversal executive Jeff Shell, nightlife industry entrepreneur Rande Gerber and his wife Cindy Crawford.

Nate 'n Al has found its White Knight. 

According to sources, music moguls Irving and Shelli Azoff have purchased the legendary Beverly Hills deli and have enlisted a group of Hollywood friends as partners intent on preventing it from closing. The plan, according to two sources, is to move the restaurant from its current location on Beverly Drive to a new spot in Beverly Hills' commercial district, possibly several blocks away in the space occupied by Wolfgang's Steakhouse at 443 N. Canon Drive. The deal is expected to close April 1. 

Reached on Friday evening, Shelli Azoff declined to comment.

Over the past several months, the Azoffs have assembled an investor team that includes UTA agent Jay Sures, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell, real estate developer Mike Meldman and nightlife industry entrepreneur Rande Gerber and his wife Cindy Crawford. It's unclear if other investors are involved.

Last year, the fate of Nate 'n Al was called into question — causing existential angst across the entertainment industry — when news spread that longtime owners Mark and David Mendelson were considering selling the 73-year old Jewish deli. Since then, the restaurant’s longtime clientele has been speculating on who might step in to save it, and there was a push by a Beverly Hills City councilmember to try and protect the deli by granting it landmark status. 

The primary question to many was whether a buyer would want to run the restaurant business or simply make a play for the real estate. The 5,200-square-foot building in the heart of Beverly Hills could fetch as much as $25 million, if not more, according to several real estate brokers. The Mendelson brothers tried to sell the Nate 'n Al building to the Azoffs, but the couple weren't interested. So they made a deal to buy the business and relocate it.

Opened in 1945, Nate 'n Al has long served as a favorite breakfast and lunch spot for Hollywood stars and a meeting point for entertainment executives. Larry King once ate breakfast at the deli most mornings, and current fans include the leaders of the Beverly Hills-based talent agencies and management companies. 

One real estate source heard a rumor that the Azoffs were considering several locations, one of which would have brought the seminal Beverly Hills deli to a location further west in Brentwood, which was tantamount to sacrilege. “If they are at Wolfgang’s, and they have the same management, same cooks and wait staff, I’m going to go there — as long as it feels like home," says this source. "But Brentwood, that would be a deal breaker."