This smells fishier than a lox on rye.
The owner of Katz’s Deli on Friday put the kibosh on reports that accused subway madman Frank James had lunch at the famed eatery an hour or two before he was arrested, with the restaurateur telling The Post, “We reviewed the video, we didn’t see him.”
James, who is facing terrorism charges for allegedly firing 33 rounds aboard a Manhattan-bound N train during the rush-hour commute Tuesday, led cops on a “wild goose chase” for more than a day after changing clothes and slipping away from the scene of the attack.
During that time, he wandered around the Big Apple, where he was spotted in Park Slope, Chinatown, the East Village and, according to multiple news reports, grabbing lunch at the iconic deli, a tourist haven on East Houston Street known for Jewish culinary classics.
But according to high-level police sources and Katz’s owner, the purported sighting at the eatery was nothing but a fish tale.
The outlet that first reported the story cited a single “source” who claimed James noshed at Katz’s “a few hours” after 10:30 a.m. before heading over to a McDonald’s on First Avenue and East Sixth Street. Yet even the report noted that no deli workers could confirm James had been there.
Another outlet later reported the sighting, quoting “police sources.”
But a half-dozen law-enforcement sources noted to The Post on Friday that the NYPD has no confirmed record of James going to Katz’s, nor was the staff there interviewed by detectives, as witnesses at various other places had been.
When The Post visited Katz’s on Friday afternoon to follow up on the outlets’ claims, the restaurant’s owner, Jake Dell, said their stories didn’t add up.
“I reviewed the cameras from [11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday]. I’m confident [James] didn’t come in at that time,” Dell said, adding that the deli has “over 60” surveillance cameras. “We reviewed the video, we didn’t see him.
“Could it have been before? Or after? On Tuesday or last week? We have thousands of people that come here to eat a pastrami sandwich,” Dell said.
“The cops didn’t come here, they didn’t ask me to look at the video. I just looked at it out of my own curiosity,” he added. “I don’t know where this rumor started.
“I don’t even know who this source is,” Dell griped.
“It just looks like lazy reporting to me.”
Additional reporting by Larry Celona and Craig McCarthy