Ruth Wilensky, the matriarch behind the iconic Mile End deli, Wilensky’s, has died.
She has been the driving force of the 86-year-old deli since her husband Moe died in 1984.
The restaurant became famous for its Wilensky Special — a pressed salami and baloney sandwich, with mustard — never cut. It also became famous when it was featured in Mordecai Richler’s novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and served as a location in the film of the same name.
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“It’s sad. Obviously she had a good life, but everyone knows Wilensky’s has been central to the identity of this neighbour,” said Will Straw, a longtime client and Montreal resident. “It’s a wonderful piece of Montreal history.”
Though Wilensky officially retired in 2012, she still very much remained the face of the deli.
Nearby business owners, who knew Wilensky say she was one of a kind and her presence in the neighbourhood will be missed.
“They don’t make them like her anymore,” said Nat Scalia, owner of Caffe Grazie Mille.
According to an obituary published by Paperman & Sons funeral home, Wilensky died on Friday.
A funeral service will be held Sunday.
Wilensky is survived by her four children and four grandchildren.
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