Funeral services will be held Sunday for restaurateur Gary Canter, grandson of the founder of Canter’s Deli.
The 58-year-old Canter was found unresponsive at 7:29 p.m. Tuesday at his residence in the 400 block of South Highland Avenue. A statement on Canter’s personal Facebook page said he died from an “apparent massive heart attack.”
“We are deeply saddened & shocked by his sudden death,” according to a statement by Canter’s Deli. “Gary lit up whatever room he walked into with his charisma, generosity & kindness. His love for his family, friends and Canter’s deli was profound. Buddy will be very missed by all,” the post read.
The 24-hour deli at 419 N. Fairfax Ave. has long been a popular hangout for famous figures in show business, sports and politics. Ben Canter and two brothers opened the first Canter’s in Boyle Heights in 1931. The restaurant was moved to the Fairfax district in the 1950s, with help from Ben Canter’s daughter Selma Udko and her then-husband, Harold Price.
Gary Canter’s ex-wife, Deborah Canter, told City News Service that his only child was taking the loss especially hard. Jenifer Alexa Canter, a 26- year-old actress and model, had worked closely in her father’s restaurants from an early age.
“She’s devastated,” Deborah Canter said of their daughter, whom she called “the joy of his life.”
She said her ex-husband — to whom she was married from 1985-99 — had been working hard lately, opening two restaurants in Las Vegas in October, and hadn’t been feeling well.
The deli’s co-owner, Terri Bloomgarden, who is Gary Canter’s cousin, told City News Service nCanter “was a brother, a son, a cousin … Gary was a person with a big heart and a big personality, and he’ll be missed.”
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills.
Ned Colletti, the former Dodgers general manager and currently a senior adviser for the team, is expected to be among those speaking at the funeral. Colletti and Canter were longtime friends who worked together when Canter’s opened a stand at Dodger Stadium for three seasons from 2008-10.
“I don’t know how many people I have met in life — a thousand? None of them like Gary Canter,” Colletti wrote on Twitter. “… He had as big a (heart) as anyone I know.”