I hate to be the one to break it to you if you’re unaware, but Debbie’s Kitchen is closing effective Saturday, April 11th. I’m hesitant to use the word “permanently” because these current days have caused many, myself included, to question what forever really means. Perhaps, like so many other things from our pre-Covid-19 world, there will eventually be a resurrection of this Albany landmark, maybe in a different location or format.
My history as a patron of Debbie’s Kitchen dates back to the Lark Street days. While sandwiches are not necessarily my passion, the creative and delicious things she could create from bread, meat, cheese, vegetables and fruit, made me a fan, even when Debbie herself frightened me.
Yes, Debbie Klauber, the First Lady of Lunch, scared me.
I’m not 100% certain why that was, but it must have had something to do with my being young (weren’t we all?) and new to Albany. Debbie’s original location was one of those places that you step down to get into and the space was tight, particularly during the early afternoon. The menu was exotic and making a decision always took me a little too long, I think, and Debbie had a bit of a gruffness to her that I found intimidating. Not full on Soup Nazi-ish, but still kind of forbidding to me at the time.
But, those sandwiches kept me coming back. Sometimes it was the turkey with cranberry mayo, sliced apple and smoked Swiss on wheat, my traditional favorite. Other times it was the roast beef with Russian, red onion, tomato and dill havarti that called my name. And, maybe once a year, I’m powerless to deny my craving for the comfort food sandwich of my childhood in its finest grown up manifestation – liverwurst with hot mustard, red onion and sliced egg. On rye, of course.
As time passed, I came to know Debbie and learned that her limited tolerance for nonsense masked an enormously generous heart. Her spirit of adventure and belly laugh are, to me, as nourishing to the soul as her edible concoctions are to my belly. I’ll miss knowing that Debbie and a fantastic meal are just a few minutes away, but I am certain that she and her food will be a part of our local post-pandemic scene, even if just at future catered events and holidays.
You’ve got two more days to get yourself there for a “for now” last bite. Maybe grab yourself a quiche or hearty pot pie for the freezer. As for me, I’ll continue trying to pace my consumption of the carrot cake I picked up the other day. Sorry, but I’m not sharing.