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How BTS Secretly Visited New York City's Most Famous Deli For 'The Tonight Show'

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Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

Pictured: (top row l-r) RM, host Jimmy Fallon, (bottom row l-r) Jin, Jungkook, V, a Katz Deli employee, SUGA, Jimin, and J-Hope of BTS on Feb. 24, 2020 .

"It was a blast working with them," says Katz’s Delicatessen owner Jake Dell.

In celebration of their upcoming album Map of the Soul: 7, releasing this Friday (Feb. 21), BTS is gearing up for a special takeover broadcast of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. 

An extended interview, a performance in Grand Central Terminal and tour of New York City are all in store -- including a stop at the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen, famous among locals and tourists alike for its mile-high sandwiches, knishes and other kosher-style staples. 

As the deli's official site says, Katz's receives thousands of visitors every week -- and yet host Jimmy Fallon and the world’s biggest K-pop group managed to visit without a soul finding out until NBC announced the news on Thursday (Feb. 13). 

The segment, which will air on Monday (Feb. 24), came together with the help of Katz's owner Jake Dell, who’s no stranger to keeping a secret.

“We've been friends with Jimmy [Fallon] and the whole Tonight Show team for a while -- we cater lunches for them all the time,” Dell tells Billboard by phone of how the opportunity came together. “This was definitely their idea, but it was also a collaboration, like, ‘What can we do that will be a lot of fun?’ As far as actually bringing them [BTS] here, that was all Jimmy.”

Along with Fallon, the K-pop group’s seven members -- V, Jungkook, Jimin, Suga, Jin, J-Hope and RM -- are expected to sample some of Katz’s most-ordered menu items, or as Dell puts it, “all of the classics.”

Everything the band tries will also be available to the public, he adds: “When fans see it, they can absolutely see the same things they ate.” While he was cryptic about the specifics, Dell did share that knishes, a personal favorite of his, “may or not” be featured. “That's actually how you know [how to spot] a true New Yorker,” he says of all the fellow knish fans out there.

And while BTS’s performance at Grand Central likely took place after it closed at 2:00 a.m., Dell says the band visited Katz’s during business hours. “Yeah, we made it work,” he says, laughing. “That was half the fun. We did it a bit strategically so it wasn't as chaotic as it can be -- it wasn't a Sunday or Saturday lunch.”

So how did Dell and his staff keep the visit under wraps until it was time to announce? “We keep everything a secret here -- we keep a pastrami recipe secret for 132 years,” he confirms. “I think we can keep a visit secret!”

BTS initially made their Tonight Show debut in 2018 with an interview and performance of their hits “I’m Fine” and “Idol." Now, with an entire hour of their own, they're sure to create one of the biggest late-night moments yet. Tune in to "The Tonight Show: Subway Special" with special guests BTS on Monday, Feb. 24.


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