Weintraub’s Jewish Delicatessen on Water Street is a part of Worcester’s past now, but the iconic neon sign above the storefront is still there and will remain there until a suitable new owner and home is found for it.
The Historical Commission received that assurance last week from the owner of a business that will open there, as well as from the owner of the property at 126 Water St.
Jean-Luc Wittner, who plans to open Suzette Creperie & Cafe, told the commission that he and his landlord, Edward Murphy, are very respectful of history and preservation and they want to make sure the Weintraub’s sign lives on.
“We adore that neon sign,” he said. “We even had the crazy idea of using it ourselves and making it a table inside with a glass top, but we don’t have the space for it.
“Everyone loves that sign,” he continued. “We are conscious of that, as is the landlord. Everyone in Worcester knows that sign. It has a high historic value and it goes beyond the limits of the city of Worcester. We can assure that sign will not be removed until we have a solution as to who is going to take it and preserve it.”
Wittner said he has been told at least three parties are interested in the sign, one of them being the Worcester Historical Museum. He said he does not know who the other two are and the landlord is not willing to make them public at this time.
“The sign will not disappear, I can guarantee you that,” he told the Historical Commission. “It will go to someone who can take good care of it.”
Weintraub’s, a 99-year-old Water Street landmark and Worcester’s last remaining Jewish deli, closed in April.
Stephen Rolle, assistant chief development officer for the city, complimented both the owner of the property and its new tenant for understanding the importance of the Weintraub’s sign and caring enough to want to find an appropriate home for it before taking it down.
“They’re not there yet,” Rolle said of finding that new home for the sign. “They’re still exploring what the right solution is.”
Julie Dowen of the Worcester Heritage Society said she greatly appreciated the efforts to save the sign.
She said it is very important to the heritage of Worcester, adding that she hopes it can remain in the city and remain as part of it forever.
The removal of the neon sign was part of a building demolition delay waiver sought by Wittner, who is renovating the building. The Historical Commission agreed to continue that part of the demolition delay waiver request to its next meeting, March 5.
Meanwhile, the commission did grant a waiver to Wittner’s request to remove the building’s existing facade and replace it with a newly designed facade.
He said parts of the facade are in very bad shape, with some pieces missing, rusting or falling apart.
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