Pumpernickel’s Deli on Pantigo Road in East Hampton — founded and owned by Dianne Payne, who has been behind the counter taking orders and shooting the breeze with her customers for 16 years — is closing its doors at the end of the business day tomorrow. Those with a hankering for an Erik, Nicole, Christina, or Erin sandwich (named after Ms. Ryan’s four children) might want to visit in the next 48 hours, or they’ll have to go cold turkey on the Ovengold turkey.
Ms. Payne has trouble talking about tomorrow without choking up. “When I started here, their [Nicole and Erik, her twins] noses were just under the counter,” she said. Now, with Erin and Christina both living upstate, one expecting a baby and one with a toddler, Ms. Payne tries to look at the bright side. “That’ll be the bonus,” she said. “I’ll be able to visit more often.”
Ms. Payne lost her lease and found out suddenly that she had to vacate the premises by Oct. 1 for a new renter who was coming in.
She didn’t want to talk about that — “I’m emotionally overwhelmed” — so instead she concentrated on the happy memories.
“The school bus would stop right outside,” she said. “That was so great for a mother of four. The kids would run in and do their homework in the back.”
All the kids have taken a turn at the deli as well. “Pumps was our second home,” said Nicole Payne. “We are sad to see it go because of all the memories and friends we have made there.” But, she added, “the book is not closed. We are just moving on to the next chapter.”
Ms. Payne swore to herself growing up that “I would never, ever own a deli. I grew up in a deli and I knew how hard it was.” Her father, Fred Lutzen, ran Lutzen’s Restaurant in Wainscott and the Dutch Motel, but before that, when Ms. Payne was growing up, he had delicatessens in Massapequa and East Chester, N.Y.
In a farewell letter to her customers, “who have become our friends,” Ms. Payne said, “We are so sorry to have to say goodbye. Like a huge neighborhood kitchen table, we’ve been a part of your weddings, graduations, baby showers, and watched your children go through school, off to college, and become young adults. We’ve been honored to share in the blood drives, Wounded Warrior project, Fisherman’s Fair, food pantry, senior citizens, and so very many wonderful benefits.”
“Through our tears (which are many),” she wrote, “we thank all of you for your support and friendship over the past 16 years.”