Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dubrow's teaspoon for sale on Ebay

Sadly, the auction is already over.

Here's the bid:
You are bidding on a vintage silver plated iced tea spoon from the long closed Dubrow's Cafeteria in New York City. Until it closed in 1985, the cafeteria was a fixture in the Garment District at 7th Avenue at 38th Street and was the location for filming the PBS movie "The Cafeteria", a short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Spoon handle is marked "dubrow's" Manufacturer stamp on back of handle is "R.W.& S." A great piece of memorabilia!

Spoon is in very good condition with no rusting or noticeable defects. Silver plate appears intact with some areas of scratching and wear, particularly on the underside of the bowl. The blackness of the bowl you see is from the scan, not the spoon. It is shiny!

Buyer pays $3.00 USPS First Class shipping which includes insurance. Will combine shipping on multiple wins. U.S. Buyers only. Will only ship in U.S. Will accept personal check (shipping delayed until check clears), money order or cashiers check. Sorry, no PayPal. Buyer must pay within 10 days. Buyer must e-mail seller within 3 days. Thanks for bidding!

Starting bid - $9.99. Ebay user “caddie49”

Here's a link to the archived listing on Ebay, which includes a picture.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dubrow's across politics

I am learning that Dubrow's Cafeteria was loved by people of all political beliefs, as well as by people of different cultures and religions. To me, this is one of the wonderful things about a restaurant, especially a cafeteria-style restaurant. It brings the community together, and some things become bigger than politics.

Here's two blogs I've found that represent the spectrum of political opinions, but that both mention a love of Dubrow's.

In Down with Tyranny, kenniny writes: "I've met every Democratic president since a horse in JFK's "motorcade" stepped on my foot in front of Dubrow's Cafeteria on Kings Highway when I was a child." (Nov 4, 2005)

On the other end of the political spectrum, Linda SoG writes that among her Brooklyn memories is one of "...going round and round the revolving door at Dubrow's Cafeteria under the El on the Highway."

Two vantage points by two different people who share a love of the same city and a restaurant - isn't that what community is all about?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Relatively quiet around here...

But I'm still here. Waiting for some more stories and memories. My cousing Joanne Gruber, who wrote many articles about Dubrow's, including one I reprinted here, should be contacting me soon with some good stuff.

In the mean time, check out this blog I recently found. It's a collection of Brooklyn stories. There's at least one reference to Dubrow's in it, and I posted a comment inviting the members to visit me and share more memories of Dubrow's.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


This is another image of the destruction of the Dubrow's on King's Highway in Brooklyn; this one by Jerry at

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Poem by my mother

On the 25th Anniversary of My Sister’s Death
(for Laura Kaplan Levin, 1946-1980)

by Bonnie Lyons

I looked up and you were there, smiling.
You’d arranged for a baby-sitter, driven to Trenton,
taken a train to Penn Station, caught a taxi to the Hilton
on West 54th and in the maze of meeting rooms
found the correct one by 8:30 AM just to hear me
read a paper I can no longer remember at the annual MLA convention.
A few hours later we were standing in line at Dubrow’s
when this old couple, unaware that Dubrow’s was Daddy’s cafeteria,
told us the Chinese food was terrible. The more they warned us,
the more we laughed. The more we laughed,
the more they warned us. Between bites of scrumptious blintzes
and sour cream (who orders Chinese food at a Jewish cafeteria?)
we looked into each other’s face and collapsed into giggles.
Then you glanced at your watch, gasped, and we sprinted
back to Penn station just in time for your return trip.
Thirty years later I clearly see us running
side by side, laughing all the way.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Photo by Marcia Bricker.

These were the letters from the neon signs that used to grace the King's Highway Dubrow's in Brooklyn. Isn't this an amazing shot?

Monday, August 01, 2005

King's Highway mosaic

Again, photo by Marcia Bricker, who states that this is the "detail of the mosaic that covered the outside wall, mostly on the 16th Street side" of the Dubrow's on King's Highway in Brooklyn, NY.

Marcia also asks in a comment on another entry whether anyone has recollections or memories about the "other" Dubrow's in Brooklyn. Most of what I have heard from people is about the Dubrow's on King's Highway.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Photo of the mural in the King's Highway Dubrow's

This photo was also sent to me by the photographer, Marcia Bricker, who says it's of the mural that was in the Dubrow's on King's Highway in Brooklyn.

I'll be posting one of Marcia's photos each day, just so people can savor them. There may be a lapse this weekend, as I am going to Seattle for a friend's wedding, and don't know how much internet access I'll have.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Photo of the King's Highway Dubrow's

This photo was emailed to me by Marcia Bricker, the photographer. In addition to being a fantastic photograph in and of itself, it also shows the swanky interior of the Dubrow's Cafeteria on King's Highway in Brooklyn.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I've started an entry in Wikipedia, the world's coolest encyclopedia, about Dubrow's. Because Wikipedia is an online, public encyclopedia, anyone can edit the entries. So feel free to offer more facts about Dubrow's. Also, I reference several people associated with Dubrow's in the entry (Benjamin Dubrow, George Dubrow, Irving Kaplan, Paul Tobin) so if people have more history to offer about any of those people, feel free to start entries about them.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A little backstory

As many of you know, or have gathered reading this blog, Dubrow is the family name of my grandmother, Sylvia Kaplan. They were the Dubrowvinskis, originally, and came to America from the little town Pahust (or Pogost, according the Jewish genealogical site I found) just outside of Minsk, in what is now Belarus.

Benjamin Dubrow emigrated with his wife Rose in 1914. His sister refused to emigrate. He and Rose had five children: George, Lila, Minnie, Sylvia, and Ruthie. Benjamin opened Dubrow's in 1952. His son, George Dubrow ran the Manhattan Dubrow's until 1955, when he died suddenly in a car accident. George's oldest son Irwin then ran the Manhattan Dubrow's until 1970 when he committed suicide. My mother recalled that he killed himself on the same day that Janis Joplin overdosed and died. Which is a particularly weird juxtaposition considering that my father, Grant Lyons, was a close friend of Janis' in high school. In any case, the Manhattan Dubrow's was actually close for a short period of time in until a new owner and manager could be established.

My grandfather, Irving Kaplan, came into the business late. Paul Tobin, Benjamin Dubrow's grandson, had been running the Manhattan restaurant and enlisted my grandfather's help. They ran it together for the last decade of its existence, but the declining garment industry and the cost of Manhattan real estate prevented it from remaining open.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Another loss for Manhattan

Somehow, this feels like it's related to Dubrow's: The Beekman theater, where Annie Hall was filmed, is closing its doors after 53 years. It feels like it's from the same era as Dubrow's and my grandfather.

All three of those things have come to an end. I guess everything does.

Friday, May 27, 2005

On the set of The Cafeteria

This photo accompanied an article in the New York Times (Saturday, August 20, 1983) about the filming of the PBS/American Playhouse movie "The Cafeteria." The movie was based on an Isaac Bashevis Singer short story.

Check out this little bit of sad irony, an excerpt from the article that accompanied the photo:

"Where else to do it but in a cafeteria? And where to find a real cafeteria in the traditional mold but Dubrow's, a far from extinct survivor of a breed that is too far gone to even be called an endangered species."

This article was written just under two years before Dubrow's did in fact become extinct. It doesn't sound like the author saw Dubrow's closure coming at all...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Last apple strudel

This is from an article in the New York Times (Saturday, August 3, 1985) entitled "Dubrow's Serves Its Last Apple Strudel." Here's a few excerpts from the article. I love that they interviewed customers, employees, and managers alike about the impact of the closing of Dubrow's Cafeteria.

"The secret was the customer got to choose, the food was good, and the price was reasonable," said Paul Tobin, one of Dubrow's owners.

"Now I'm all alone," Mr. (Irving) Moskowitz said. "There's no place to eat around here. It was more than just a place to eat. It was a meeting place. A place to be. You didn't get to know them. But they were people, and you sort of knew them. This city doesn't care about things like that."

"This is it?" Miss (Joan) Cohen asked Jennie Porat, who has worked at the bakery for nine years.
"Money, money, money," Miss Porat replied.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Photo of Leib Lensky at Dubrow's

This is the photo of Leib Lensky in Dubrow's, from the article in New York Magazine (August 12,1985) in the last blog entry. I believe this photo was taken on the last day the Manhattan Dubrow's was open.

Friday, May 20, 2005

"The horse and buggy in a world of automobiles"

This is an excellent article about the closing of Dubrow's, written by Joanne Gruber, who is also one of Benjamin Dubrow's grandchildren. My aunt Beth sent me three different articles from various places about Dubrow's - this is the first time I've had a chance to type them up. I'll scan the photos from the articles in and post those, too, in time.

“Mourning Dubrow’s” by Joanne Gruber
New York Magazine, August 12th, 1985

The other night, a character actor named Leib Lensky was sitting in the middle of Dubrow’s, the huge cafeteria on Seventh Avenue at 38th street that he’s been going to for more than twenty years. Lensky, a bearded, five-foot-tall man who’ll admit to being “over seventy,” methodically carved up his boiled chicken and read his Yiddish and English newspapers at his usual table, but he seemed morose.

Like many other regular customers, he knew that Dubrow's, one of the last of the city’s counter service cafeterias, would soon be closing down. “I feel terrible,” said Lensky, who is best remembered for playing the senile Russian priest in Woody Allen’s Love and Death. “For me it’s a problem, because I’m by myself. They treated me like I’m family here.”

For 33 years, Dubrow’s, built by Russian immigrant Benjamin Dubrow, was the spiritual center of the garment district. Along with Leib Lensky, some 4,000 customers a day came throught its Art Deco dining room and take-out department to get reliable, heaping portions of blintzes, brisket, fresh pastries, an tidbits of industry gossip.

The most popular item on the menu was the noodles and cheese, at $2 a plate. For $4.50, you could get half of a roast chicken, two vegetables, a roll, salad, and soup or juice.

Dubrow’s clientele included such celebrities as Paul Newman, Nelson Rockefeller, and Myron Cohen. Last year, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story “The Cafeteria” was brought to life there on PBS, with longtime customers appearing as extras.

But fast food competitors, the shrinking of the city’s garment industry, and steadily rising operating costs finally convinced co-owners Irving Kaplan and Paul Tobin (the founder’s son-in-law and grandson) to sell their lease to the landlords, who in turn have sold the building for more than $5 million to the Phillips International Holding Company, run by real estate developer Philip Pivesky.

“It’s like the end of an era,” said Kaplan. “But times change; we’re like the horse and buggy in a world of automobiles.”

Last week, the place was visited by armies of well-wishers who came in to bid the owners and staff goodbye. The younger customers will presumably go somewhere else to buy their kaiser rolls, but the older regulars who sat there and schmoozed all evening, nursing a Danish and a cup of coffee, feel they won’t easily find another home.
“Here they know me,” said Leib Lensky. “I had my privileges “

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Photo of Irving at Dubrow's

According to my aunt Beth, this photo was taken on the day the Manhattan Dubrow's closed, sometime in the 1980's. I remember when it closed - but I can't remember exactly when it happened.

Isn't this a great photo? My grandfather looks happy - but sad, too. He was a very emotional man. My mom has often joked that she, my cousin David, and my grandfather could rent themselves out as the Lachrymose Trio - crying at every occasion. Ultimately, I think he was happy to close Dubrow's, happy to retire - despite what it meant about the changing face of New York City.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Working at Dubrow's

Happy Passover to everyone!

I just came back from Miami and so I've got some renewed energy for this project. My aunt Beth, Irving Kaplan's oldest daughter, told me a funny story about working at the Manhattan Dubrow's one summer. It was about 1958, and she was 18 or so, and her younger sister, Bonnie (my mother) had already worked at Dubrow's. So when Irving put her in charge of answering phones, and asked her "do you know all the prices?" Beth said "of course!" - not wanting to appear less competant than her younger sister. But in reality she didn't have the faintest clue what the prices were. So she just made them up.

In re-telling this story, Beth said: "I didn't know there would be so many people calling...I thought maybe two or three people..."

At the end of the day, Irving, who was a meticulous businessman, counted out for the day. He was not pleased. Beth said she can still hear him saying to her in that tone that meant trouble: "Beeeeeeeeth..." (The inflection is hard to capture in writing.)

Beth said she went home that night and learned all the prices. But she only worked there one summer. "They couldn't handle having me there any longer!"

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Mourning the loss of Dubrow's

The playwright Donald Margulies reminisces about Dubrow's:

"To have come of age in Eisenhower-era, baby-boomer Brooklyn was to feel cheated of the glory days. By the late '60s, public school education, which had served me and my fellow boomers so well for a time, was no longer a panacea for upwardly mobile middle-class kids. The families of those kids moved upward — or outward — to the suburban promise of Long Island and sent once-solid Brooklyn neighborhoods spiraling downward. Once urban flight took hold, the last vestiges of my parents' Brooklyn vanished. Streets and subways were no longer safe. The Sheepshead movie theatre was converted into a roller-skating rink; the Elm Theatre became a bank. Ebinger's Bakery, famous for its chocolate blackout cakes, went out of business and Dubrow's Cafeteria, best known for its kasha varnishkas, closed its revolving doors."

Originally in the Los Angles Times, reprinted in Playbill. You can read the whole article here.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Philosophizing at Dubrow's

This lovely description of Dubrow's comes from Lisa Kennedy's article in the Village Voice, which you can read here. She is quoting Brooklyn native Bernard Glassman's experience of Dubrow's:

"Truth be told, that first day's search for boxes for shelter and cans for income had the playful exuberance of Carole Lombard tracking down "a forgotten man" for her upper-class scavenger hunt in My Man Godfrey. But Glassman is candid about the romantic origins of the Street Retreat. "I remember explicitly sitting in Dubrow's, a cafeteria in Brooklyn, eating," he says one afternoon. "And at the next table was a bunch of bums - Bowery-type bums - and they were discussing philosophy, and I was amazed. Their discussion made me feel that there was some kind of knowledge on the streets that was more profound than the kind of knowledge I was getting. I can still picture them - it was a long time ago."

Like father, like son

How funny...I just found a reference to Dubrow's online in an interview with Dennis Prager a couple days ago, and tonight I found a reference to Dubrow's in an excerpt from Chapter XV of the memoirs of Max (Mac) Prager, Dennis Prager's father:

"One Thursday morning in the beginning of August 1940 while taking inventory at Kay Cloak &Suit Co., something snapped in my mind and told me that it was time to propose marriage to the young lady who was my best friend for four years. Since I was one block from Pearl Dress Co., I suggested that we meet for lunch which was not unusual when I was working near Hilda. She met me outside her building and we went for lunch at Dubrow's Cafeteria at the comer of her street. While sitting at a table and eating, I, in a not too romantic setting, said in a matter of fact manner that the time for marriage has arrived. I was not surprised at Hilda’s reaction which was not one of shock since after seeing each other every day for four years, marriage at some point in time was expected. At this point, I must admit that neither of our parents ever inquired as to when we were getting married."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Dubrow's drew people of all political persuasions

I found this excerpt about Dubrow's in an article by Luke Ford about the conservative talk show host Dennis Prager:

"In late 1963, bored with school, Dennis embarked on an intense exploration of Manhattan's cultural attractions. One day he bought a $1 ticket to hear Alexander Schneider and his chamber group play Handel's Concerti Grossi at Carnegie Hall. Prager fell in love with classical music. The next day he spent two weeks lunch money and allowance ($32) to buy concert tickets at Carnegie.

For the rest of high school, Dennis spent two-to-three evenings a week in Manhattan, attending plays, concerts and book stores. He usually ate his dinner (tuna fish salad plate, apple pie and coffee for $1.50) at Dubrow's Cafeteria by the subway station on King Highway."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A story

This comes from my great aunt Marian Rossman. She recalls that Dubrow's was the kind of place everybody knew. "You would put down your $.10 for a cup of coffee and sit there all day." She also said that the Miami Dubrows was often written up in the paper, and she would collect the articles and send them the Sylvia, Irving Kaplan's wife and her sister-in-law. So those articles are probably somewhere in my grandparents' house right now...I'll be doing a little rummaging when I go down there this year for Passover.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Well, already this blog has become the first item that comes up when you Google "Dubrow's Cafeteria." This is the epitome of success in the 21st century and the internet age.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

A mystery

I need help on this one. I found this obituary in the online version of the Montclair Times, a New Jersey paper:

Leo Martin

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Leo Martin, 83, of Montclair died on Tuesday, May 2, in the Kessler Care Center at St. Cloud in West Orange. Born in Poland, Mr. Martin came to the United States in 1928. He had lived in Montclair since 1951. Mr. Martin attended Northeastern University in Boston.

Prior to owning The Marlboro Inn in Montclair (1976-1979), Mr. Martin had owned the Claremont Diner in Verona, Arthur Maisel's in Atlantic City, Dubrow's Cafeteria, both in New York City and Brooklyn, and the Saxony Cafeteria in Newark.

Mr. Martin's wife, Teresa, predeceased him in March. He is survived by three daughters, Barbara Cogan, Linda Festa, and Patricia Roelke; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Now, I checked with my mother, the unofficial family historian. As far as we know, there is no Leo Martin in our family, and no one named Leo Martin ever "owned" Dubrow's. Perhaps he was a manager? Or is he some long lost family member? We do have one of those, actually. But he's been found now.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Poetic tribute

I think this is an amazing poem, and I love that it references Dubrow's, but what's interesting is that I don't remember there being any waitresses there.

By Jason Shinder

Originally published in Every Room We Ever Slept In, Sheep Meadow Press, 1993
Reprinted in Night Out: Poems about Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, and Bars, 1997

There is a table in the back where she opens
her mouth to red lipstick, lets her eyes down
for a touch of blue mascara, and rests

her bunioned feet. Six more hours
before she can sip Coca Cola and sleep
in front of her father’s new Magnavox 14 inch Black & White,

Milton Berle running across the screen.
She touched Mr. Berle’s hand once in 1948
when he raised his right arm for her

and a roast beef sandwich. The world shrieked,
rang in promise. She knows it was then the twitching began
in her left eye. Esther is still

waiting tables at Dubrow’s. Sadie still hanging coats
at Sutter’s. Sunday, she’s got her cousin Lenny’s
green Chevrolet. The tall kitchen doors swing back

and forth, parting the hair on her forehead.
She can taste the salt at the back of her throat
thinking of the man

who will lean into her one night. Not the girl
smiling, balancing three bowls of soup on her left arm,
but a woman who could claim all beauty hers,

not to keep it, but to hold it long enough to change.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Poetic tribute

This comes from my cousin David, too:
"As I might speak of e. e. cummings enormous room or Swann's Madeline
you speak of Dubrow's Cafeteria and Mallomars."

It's from the poem "You Could Live If They Let You" by Wallace Markfield, but I can't find a copy of the full poem. I'm hoping David will send it to me, but if anyone else has a some of Markfield's poetry lying around, send it this way. He sounds like a poet i'd like to check out.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

First contacts

I emailed three people who made reference to Dubrow's, and have heard back from all three of them! I've sent letters out to twelve of my relatives asking for any stories or photos to include, and I've heard from four of them already via email. (Six of them are relatives without email, so they will take some time). I'm very excited about the momentum that is gaining already.

This comes from an email from Sam Person, who wrote an interesting personal essay that mentioned Dubrow's:

"First, you refer to a Dubrow's on "East" Parkway. The street was EASTERN Parkway, and frankly, I do not recall a Dubrow's there. On this I might be wrong. Also, the one location in Brooklyn you do not identify was, I believe, on Flatbush Avenue near Church Avenue. Again, however, check my facts. The painting of Dubrow's on your blog is great. Have prints ever been made that you are aware of, and if so, where might I find one?"

Here's the link for Ivan Koota's artwork. He is a self-taught artist from Brooklyn and I am not sure if his paintings have been made into prints.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Painting of Dubrow's

Late Night "Nosh", Acrylic/canvas, 24"x30", 1996, by Ivan Koota

My cousin David sent me a link to another one of Ivan Koota's paintings of Dubrow's. Here's what Koota had to say about it:

"Dubrow's was  also one of several  congenial neighborhood eateries in my area of Brooklyn where  both young and old, the “elegant” and the casual, the couple or the single, could all gather together for a late night “snack.” Either after the wedding,  after the movie,  after the party, or after the gin game,  it was time for everyone to fill up with a danish and coffee or a soda and sandwich before the evening was finally over."

Painting of Dubrow's

Dubrow's Cafeteria, 30" x 40", Oil/Canvas, By Dennis Ziemienski. Go here for more information about the artist or ordering prints of the painting.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

A little history

I just spoke on the phone with my mother about this project. She gave me some of the history, which I knew, but never seem to be able to retain. Now I'll have it in a place where I can keep track of it.

Dubrow's was created by Benjamin Dubrow, my great-grandfather. The original was in Brooklyn, and eventually there were three in Brooklyn. One on Eastern Parkway, one on King's Highway, and one of which my mother couldn't remember the location. Irving Kaplan, Benjamin's son-in-law, took over the business and expanded it. There was a Dubrow's on 7th avenue in Manhattan - this is the one I remember - and one on Lincoln Road in Miami, where my grandparents eventually moved. George Dubrow, Benjamin's only son, ran the Manhattan restaurant for awhile, and then when he died young in a car accident his sons Irwin and Leonard managed it.

My mother also told me a personal story: When I was a little girl I went out to eat at Dubrow's with my parents and my grandparents. My grandmother, Sylvia Kaplan, was very pleased that I liked to eat because "her other grandchildren were such neurotic eaters," in my mother's words. She was particularly "ecstatic" that I chose to eat a bowl of broccoli, or "brocci" as I apparently used to call it.

Dubrow's gets a poetic tribute

Dubrow's gets a verse in the poem "I L(o)ve NY" by George Dowden, featured in GRIST On-Line Magazine #4, January 1994:

"Legendary cafeteria Dubrow's, 7th Avenue and W. 38th
Street, what food selection, steam tables, steel
cookers, small inferno, now respectable middle-class
eatery but what New World stories here at all of the

For the full poem, go here.

Dubrow's 1977

This is not the Dubrow's I remember from my childhood; it is not the one from 7th avenue in Manhattan. This is the Dubrow's on King's Highway in Brooklyn. Photo by Jerry at

Painting of Dubrow's

"Dubrow's Cafeteria" by Ivan Koota. Acrylic/canvas, 1993

Here's what he says: "At one time, there were several Dubrow's cafeterias in the city but "ours" was located on the corner of King's Highway and E.16th. The prices were right and the choices astonishing, especially the sliced meat sandwiches and the desserts. And following Sunday lunch, we often went to a movie at either the Avalon or the Kingsway. And it made no difference if you came in the middle of the film, you just stayed on to see it again."

I love this painting. It is close to the dim memory of a memory I have of my grandfather's restaurants.

Dubrow's Cafeteria 1977

Image reposted here. This entry has been preserved in order to save the comments and wonderful stories submitted.

The Beginning

I am starting this journal as a way of remembering and honoring the restaurants I barely knew, and the wonderful, mensch of a man who ran them, my grandfather Irving Kaplan. I have discovered through Google that many people have fond memories of Dubrow's, and my hope is that people will eventually find this blog and post stories, pictures, memories, and whatever else.

I intend to use this journal to excerpt and collect people's musings about Dubrow's, as I find them or hear them. This may include things written online, stories from family members, and I'm not sure what else. Part of the reason I am embarking on this is to see what I can find.