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Employee Andrea Warfield, right, waits on customers Bob Weeks, left, and Chuck Ireland at Zorba's Deli and Cafe on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, in Hayward, Calif. Warfield has worked at Zorba's since she was in high school 30 years ago. The family-run restaurant that has been serving up Greek food and sandwiches near the courthouse for more than three decades is closing its doors on Friday. (Jane Tyska/Staff)

HAYWARD -- They've been trickling in to Zorba's Deli Cafe since they heard the news.

They order their usual, whatever that may be. Sometimes it's the What a Turkey, or the Sorry Charlie, or fare more self-descriptive: a pastrami Reuben, falafel sandwich or gyro-in-a-pita.

The regulars are getting one last taste before their beloved bistro closes its doors for good at 2 p.m. Friday.

"We've had people coming in here in tears," said Berc Maner, 66, who started the restaurant near Jackson and Amador streets with his wife 38 years ago.

"Of course I'm going to miss them, too," Maner said. "Every time I see someone I won't see anymore, I start to cry."

When Maner first opened, it was just Zorba's, Safeway and Long's Drugs at the site -- the rest of the strip mall sprung up later and his "straight meat-cutting" deli evolved into the Mediterranean and sandwich shop it is now.

They've had a good run, but Maner no longer can afford the rent. He's dipped into his savings to keep it afloat, but can't do so any longer.

It's the economy, plus, for customers coming from the Peninsula, it was the construction going on at the nearby freeway interchange.

"Oh yeah, I'd get customers from all over," Maner said. "We're not just a Hayward place. Castro Valley, San Leandro. "... I'd have people coming over the (San Mateo-Hayward) Bridge every day for lunch."


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Brown paper covers glass at two neighboring storefronts at the Jackson Square strip mall, and such window dressing could be in the future for Zorba's as well.

"They don't need another empty storefront here," said Donna Klein, who has been going to Zorba's for about 20 years, particularly for the hot turkey sandwiches topped with cranberry sauce and stuffing. "They just don't."

Maner said he tried to work with the property management company -- which did not return calls seeking comment -- to no avail. He put a sign out to tell his customers what's going on.

"Due to the poor economy we may be forced to close after 38 years in business @ this location," read the sign. "We have asked the property management to help us through these hard times and are getting no response."

They got a response Monday. A representative came by and told them to remove the sign.

"I tried to work with them and they wouldn't," Maner said. "They told me to leave the key when we go. So, to hell with 'em."

Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi. Read our blog at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.