It's for real this time: Ella's Deli, the iconic kid-friendly restaurant with a colorful carousel on East Washington Avenue, has announced a closing date.
"It is with sad hearts that we announce that Ella’s Deli will be closing at our current location," the business posted on Facebook on Wednesday. "It has been our privilege to be a part of the Madison community for 42 years."
The last day is set to be "around" Jan. 21.
Over the past four decades, Ella's has become a local institution for young families. In 2009, Cap Times reporter Susan Troller interviewed owner Ken Balkin about his "Jewish deli (crossed) with animated circus toys."
"Ella's reputation as a destination restaurant has grown along with its burgeoning collection of whizzing, whirring antique toys and its remarkable 1929 vintage Parker carousel next to the parking lot," Troller wrote." It's an amazing place, with a design that is totally distinctive."
After a story last May reported that the business at 2902 E. Washington Ave. was up for sale for $1.7 million, the business responded on social media, reassuring people that "Ella's Deli is not closing. ... The owners have no plans to change anything and have simply been exploring what possibilities may exist for their future."
The listing advertised a "landmark historic Madison restaurant on the market for the first time in 41-plus" and stated that "the owners are ready to retire." The 5,500 square foot building sale would include a rental property located on the adjacent parcel at 2912 E. Johnson St.
The Facebook post brought Ella's fans out, many of them nostalgic and hoping someone will "step up and buy this Madison landmark." Several said they'd been told that the impending closure was "a rumor" and asked, "Is it for real this time?"
"Ella’s was the most important part of my high school and college years," one poster wrote. "We are forever grateful for the wonderful times and the great environment you provided for us during our young adult years."
"So many memories from when I was a little one I have here," another commenter posted. "I want to take one last look."
"Went as a kid. Took my kids," a third person wrote. "Thank you for the memories, the matzo ball soup, the grilled pound cake and fun sensory overload!"
In its original post Ella's wrote, "Our goal is to continue the Ella’s tradition. It is our hope that Ella’s will be back under new ownership, in a new space, and with a new and exciting direction."
"To the many families that have visited us, including over multiple generations, we have enjoyed getting to know you and meeting your children and then your children’s children," the post read.
"To the thousands of amazing former and current employees we have had over the years, your dedication has made Ella’s the award winning destination it is today."