When it comes to celebrating birthdays, there are three personalities: those who are indifferent, those who hate to hear their birthday even mentioned, and those who extend the festivities for weeks, resulting in your text threads, Facebook invites and iCals piling up with so many event reminders that all you can do is put everything on night mode just to find some peace. Thankfully, Factor’s Famous Deli is one of the latter.
Starting tomorrow, the Pico-Robertson Jewish deli is kicking off a full two weeks of dinners, specials and daily giveaways in celebration of its 70th birthday—culminating in a whole lot of pastrami for one lucky winner. And hey, even if you don’t get the grand prize of 70 pastrami sandwiches, there could be dozens of $70 gift cards and some merch with your name on it. And, at the very least, you can pick up an anniversary special like the new black-and-white-cookie shake.
The Pico institution opened in May 1948, a labor of love, matzo, stuffed cabbage and sandwiches made by Abe and Esther Factor for roughly 20 years until 1969, when Herman and Lili Markowitz, both Holocaust survivors, purchased the restaurant. When Herman passed four years later, Lili and all five of their children lent a hand in the deli’s day-to-day operations and helped turn Factor’s into a multigenerational favorite.
“Eighty percent of our customers are regulars," says Debbie Markowitz Ullman, the youngest of the siblings. “When you’ve been around 70 years, you see the same faces. I was just talking to [a regular], who said her kids are now 41 and 38; I said, ‘This is crazy—I knew them as little kids.’ We feel like we have 100 sets of grandparents and 1,000 sets of parents and everybody’s part of our life.”
Longtime patrons and new fans alike are invited to revel in the next few weeks of festivities, which kick off Tuesday, May 15. In honor of the deli’s seventh decade in business, anyone who dines at Factor’s Tuesday through the end of May will receive a raffle ticket, and each night, merch such as hats and shirts can be won, and two lucky winners will each receive a $70 gift card—so keep your eyes peeled to Factor’s social media for the winning numbers every evening. At the close of the month, one winner will be picked from the bunch to win a whopping 70 pastrami sandwiches.
On the specials front, there’s that new black-and-white-cookie shake: a blended combo of Fosselman’s Ice Cream and whole black-and-white cookies, all garnished with an entire cookie, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. There’s also a sandwich version of the deli’s beloved Debbie’s Chopped #1—a salad mainstay since the ’80s—called the Debbie’s Chopped Sandwich, which comes packed with turkey, grilled salami, melted Swiss, lettuce, avocado, cucumber and red onion on grilled rye (co-designed by frequent Time Out contributor Jordan Okun).
Then there’s tomorrow night’s sold-out anniversary dinner, where Osteria Mozza’s Nancy Silverton, Mélisse’s Josiah Citrin, Wexler’s Deli’s Micah Wexler and Michael Kassar, APL Restaurant’s Adam Perry Lang and more will bring their takes on traditional Jewish fare to the table, with a live auction benefitting the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“Tuesday night honors us. The rest of the two weeks honors everybody else,” says Debbie, adding, “[Factor’s is] a special place. It just has a special feeling. Our motto is ‘your home away from home,’ and it really is for so many people.”
Factor’s Famous Deli is located at 9420 W Pico Blvd and launches two weeks of giveaways starting tomorrow, May 15.