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Gloria Kurland, matriarch of Cleveland's iconic Corky & Lenny's, turns 90

The longtime 'hostess with the mostest' reflects on her milestone birthday and more than 60 years at her family's celebrated eatery.

WOODMERE, Ohio — At the iconic Cleveland eatery Corky & Lenny's, the sandwiches are stacked high, and the service is down to a science. But the hostess with the mostest is the true star of this deli.

Gloria Kurland has been an instrumental part of the family business since the restaurant first opened.

"This restaurant means a lot to me because my husband started it 66 years ago," she said.

Her husband - Sanford "Corky" Kurland and partner Lenny Kaden dreamed up a deli with lines out the door.

That dream came true. Corky & Lenny's became an east-side staple, first drawing devoted diners to their original delicatessen at Cedar Center in South Euclid, and then at their second and current location in Woodmere, which opened in 1973.

And through the decades, the Kurlands showed their love of this community through food. 

"My husband was never home," Gloria recalled. "We used to be open from 7 until 2 in the morning."

He gave so much to this place, until he couldn’t. Corky passed away in 2011, but Gloria hasn’t stopped.

"I’ve always worked and I’ve always helped out, and I love people and people know me because I’ve been here that long. And I think that’s what keeps me going," she told 3News anchor Laura Caso. "Maybe that’s what kept me alive because 90 is 90."

Yes, 90. She just celebrated nine decades of life - sixty plus spent here on the restaurant floor. She still works six days a week - and that’s only because they are closed on Mondays.

And Gloria does it all with class, she's almost always dressed to the nines.

"I’ve always been like this. I know how to put myself together," she said with a smile.

And who could blame her – she’s undoubtedly the most popular person here, and she's always ready because you never know who might walk through these doors.

Celebrities like fellow Cleveland native Joel Grey, to Liberace, and Sammy Davis Jr. have all stopped by, and Gloria has gotten to know them all.

Gloria and Corky's son Kenny eventually took over the restaurant.

"Everybody knows my mom and it’s kind of wild. [Her energy] is unbelievable," he said. "I don’t think she’s missed four days of work in 66 years, she’s vibrant, she’s young."

And while Kenny may own the place, he says it’s Gloria who runs the show – she gets things done. Just ask longtime customer Larry Katz.

"Gloria is the best. I know that when I come in she is going to great me, I don’t know if I’ll like the greeting but she directs me, she gives me advice whether I want it or not," he said with a laugh.

For regular Kimball Rubin, Gloria has become family. 

"My mom passed away seven years ago and she’s been like a second mother," he told 3News.

Those connections mean a lot to Gloria, too.

"I tell it the way it is. I’m very honest and I’ve never been any different," she said. "And when you are in our business it’s your life, and you if don’t like that, you cannot be in this kind of business."

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