Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is not the only Clevelander to take a bite out of LeBron James since the Heat lost in the NBA Finals. Now, a well-known area deli is doing the same, and it comes with a traditional bowl of homemade pickles.
The owners of Corky and Lenny's, a New York-style Jewish deli serving Cleveland for 55 years, have changed the name of their "King" corned beef sandwich to the "Dirk Nowitzki" in honor of the Finals MVP.
"People love it," says Kenny Kurland, son of Corky and co-owner of the restaurant with Earl Stein. "Everyone was just so mad at LeBron, not because he left, but because of how he handled it. He didn't act like a gentleman."
Over the years, the restaurant, which has been in its current location since 1973 and serves an estimated 1,500–1,700 daily customers, has seen many pro athletes including the likes of retired Cavalier Eric Snow, as well as former Cavs head coach Mike Brown, who was previously a monthly patron. Kurland does not recall ever seeing LeBron come through the restaurant's doors, and odds are probably not very good that will happen anytime soon.
But the rationale for renaming one of the bustling local institution's most famous menu items?
"Ever since we learned LeBron is a choke, we decided to name it for Dirk," Kurland says. "He won the ring, he’s the real king. So we put a cute spin on it."
Though the sandwich itself has nothing German on it -- customers will still have to order the Reuben if they want something with sauerkraut to go along with their matzo ball soup -- Kurland says he has seen a noticeable uptick in sales of the one-pound behemoth on a French roll because of the change. He says typically the restaurant sells 10,000 pounds of corned beef per week, and that the new name will stay for at least the rest of the month, but possibly July as well if sales of the $10.50 sandwich -- "Not New York prices" -- hold.
"It's been fun,” says Kurland, noting seeing several 'Cavs for Mavs' T-shirts through the restaurant. "We've been contacted by a couple of the local channels and TMZ. LeBron is pretty disliked for his behavior. Everyone's just happy he lost."