Well-known deli closes on Detroit's west side after owner nearly killed in robbery attempt

Johnny Lewis came inches from death in attempted robbery

DETROIT – A well-known deli on Detroit's west side is closing down because the owner is fed up with crime in the neighborhood.

Johnny Lewis said it's not because of bad business or because of the deli is moving. He said the last straw was when he was nearly killed during an attempted robbery.

Lewis said there's a lot of pride in the Dynamo Deli, on 7 Mile Road. His father opened the deli, and it's been on Detroit's west side for 35 years.

"This is one of the bullets that he shot into the cooler," Lewis said.

Lewis came within inches of death Saturday during an attempted robbery while he was closing the shop, so he and his business partner, Mike, are calling it quits.

"When I'm coming back around here, we meet right here," Lewis said. "It's a guy with a mask right here with an AK in my face."

A friend saw what was happening and ran inside to help. But instead, the robber ordered the man to the ground.

"He was standing there with the gun to his head," Lewis said. "I came around the corner with my hand like this, but he didn't see me so I stepped closer to shoot him and my gun jammed."

The gunman opened fire, and Lewis took cover behind a wall. Bullets flew through the wall, but after several shots, Lewis wasn't hit. Now his perspective has changed.

The thought of closing Dynamo Deli has been lingering for awhile, Lewis said. But he said the neighborhood has become dangerous. He still enjoyed the customers, especially the children.

"I would ask them to pull their pants up, and I would tell them that if they get good grades and come here looking presentable, they could come work here," Lewis said.

Lewis is going to rent out the building, so he'll still be around. He said he still wants to be active in the community.

But most importantly, the father of two said he wants to be with his own family.

"It's all about my family right now," Lewis said. "It's not about the money. It's not about the traditions. It's not about the 35 years. It's not about all that. It's just about my family and my life."

He said the deli will be closed within the next two weeks.

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