Iconic Madison restaurant serves its last meal

MADISON (WKOW) -- Ella's Deli and Ice Cream Parlor, an historic Madison restaurant, closed its doors for good at 3:00 p.m. Sunday.  

Patrons new and old had been lining up around the building with its famous carousel on East Washington for the past weeks to order their favorites one last time.

Customer Maria Grosse, who stood in line Sunday, is one of those customers who came back to visit the deli and ice cream parlor. "I'm happy and sad. I'm happy that I get to come back here for a while, but I'm also really sad that they're closing."

Miriam Feldman says she and her dad drove more than two hours from Sterling, Illinois just to eat a Ella's Sunday.  She said she'll miss the restaurant, too. "I'm just really sad that they are, cause it's one of my favorite delis. So now there's only a few that I like." 

Owners Judy and Ken Balkin announced January 3 they would be closing the animated-toy-filled restaurant after more than 40 years.  They placed the property up for sale last May saying they were ready to retire but hoped someone would come forward to continue the restaurant's long tradition in Madison. Ken Balkin told The Wisconsin State Journal there's been some interest from potential buyers. He said he hopes to meet with them soon, but added he wants to make there will be "a fit for our name and reputation" for anyone who would lead the establishment into the future.  

A post on Ella's Deli's Facebook page relays the following:

Ella’s has always been about people and we are so very grateful to all our customers and employees. 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. 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.

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.

It's not known what will happen to the many mechanical toys, clowns and stilt characters that dominated the interior of the restaurant.  

The deli's website relays Ella's began operating at the current location at 2902 East Washington in 1976. 

It says Ella Hirschfield was the original owner and ran her kosher deli/grocery/restaurant out of a building in the 400 block of State Street. That location, called Ella's on State Street, closed nearly 20 years ago. 

For more on this story: http://www.wkow.com/story/37314788/2018/01/21/iconic-madison-restaurant-serves-its-last-meal

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