Filming for the movie — which debuted on Feb. 3 — took place a few years ago, according to Zachary Ranes, the media and marketing manager for Ben’s Best. Third-generation owner Jay Parker was elated to have his deli featured in the film.
“They wanted an old-school place that has its charm still, some place that has still got it going on,” Ranes said. “If you’re from the west coast, you will just see a deli. If you don’t know Ben’s Best you wouldn’t know its Ben’s Best. But if you do know the deli you will recognize it.”
“The Comedian” stars De Niro, Danny DeVito, Leslie Mann, Harvey Keitel and Edie Falco, and Parker even makes an appearance in the film.
“Jay is in the film. He is behind the grill in a couple of scenes,” Ranes said. “So if you know the place and the owner, you will see him. A bunch of the old timers come in and ask for De Niro and DeVito.”
In order to get the deli film-ready, Parker and his crew scrubbed down the kitchen and cleaned the entire store. They even had to close down for a day for filming, which, Ranes said, the customers understood.
“There was a bit of a buzz because the people knew what was going on,” Ranes added. “It was an exciting period for Jay. He wasn’t really allowed to talk too much about it. People would ask him when they were coming in, but he couldn’t say.”
Although longtime customers were excited that their favorite deli would be featured in a star-studded film, they were also concerned that their local spot would not be such a hidden gem anymore. And Ranes said that the film has indeed helped bring in new customers to the destination eatery.
“My job was to get more millennials in the door,” Ranes said. “Before the movie release, we got a little buzz going. We show the movie trailer on screens in the store; we’re trying to capitalize on this. We have seen an uptick in younger people mostly.”
Parker enjoys showing the trailer for “The Comedian” in the deli since Ben’s Best is prominently featured right in the trailer.
Ben’s Best is located at 96-40 Queens Blvd.
Check out the trailer for “The Comedian” here and see if you can spot Ben’s Best: