Thursday, November 30, 2006

Family-owned business

I believe this is the last of the stories I collected over last Passover. It's sort of two stories in one, told by my mother. First, she recalls working at Dubrow's and trying to get take-out orders right. Then, she tells a story about a situation unique to working in a family-owned business...

OK. So I would answer all the phones, and mostly it was nothing. But from about 11 to 1, we’d get all these huge office runs, from the, uh, fashion district, and I remember the guy who was running the outgoing business, was real anxious sort, but he was always yelling, and pulling out clumps of his hair. No, really, he had like bald spots from literally pulling out his hair. And invariably I would get the whole order, it was big, like twenty sandwiches, and forget to ask, “do you want pumpernickel or rye?” On each sandwich I had to ask them that. And he would see my order and see I didn’t have that down, and he would – (I would say:) “I swear, they all wanted rye bread!”

So he arrived at work, and he would always come by and find out how I was doing, and so one day I said to him, there’s this man– he keeps looking at me – and he was so excited, it was something he could get into, because I’m sixteen, and no one should be looking at his cousin, and he says “oh – tell me the next time you see him, point him out to me!” He was hoping to push him down the stairs or something. So, uh - no really he was, he was looking for a fight– so, um, finally, I did see him again, and I said “He’s over there, in the corner there.” He says, “Where, where?” I said “Over there in the corner.” He said “well, tell me where he is – is he next to cousin PG?”

Stewart: It is cousin PG.

Bonnie: It is cousin PG – he (was) staring at me because I look like Sylvia. Is that funny?

Stewart is my uncle, the husband of my mother's sister Beth. Sylvia was, of course, Irving Kaplan's wife and Benjamin Dubrow's second youngest daughter. Apparently my mother had a cousin she didn't know, who wandered into Dubrow's, and was watching her because of her resemblence to her mother. Which is just the kind of thing that would only ever happen in a family-owned business.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dubrow's mentioned in an obituary

From an obituary for "Dr. Harvey 'Gizmo' Rosenburg" by Gayle Gleckler, the deceased's self-described "first ex-wife."

"I met Harvey in 1974 at Leber Katz Partners Advertising where he was consulting the agency to help us win the Celanese account. We didn't get the account. But I won Harvey. My life started spinning instantly. A whirlwind romance...we were married at the UN Chapel, handholding friends circling around us as we said our vows to be true while simultaneously letting each other be free spirits. An inspirational conundrum. Our black tie reception was held at his family's famous Dubrow's Cafeteria in the Garment Center. The great deco room was filled with minks, diamonds, amazing music, and my creative centerpieces made of carrots, celery and parsley. His grandma told me later she took a few home. They were delicious and made a great soup. Advertising, fashion folks from Manhattan, his mom, Helen, hisdad, Henry, Phyliss, Paul, family from Brooklyn and the five towns went through the cafeteria line for seconds and thirds of blintzes, pastrami, rice pudding."

Now, what's interesting here is that the author of this memorial says Harvey was a member of the family, yet I've never heard of him. Maybe he was a member of the larger Dubrow's family. Still, the idea of a wedding reception at Dubrow's seems like it would be memorable. I wonder if he was the only one to do so. Does anyone remember him? He sounds like quite a character.

Also, later she makes mention a disturbing incident:

"Nothing with Harvey was ordinary. In the midst of the nuptial excitement and happiness of this splendiferous occasion there was a random murder - I believe a stabbing - outside Dubrow's that night."

Surely someone knows something about this? A murder that took place outside Dubrow's? Anyone recall hearing about this?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A few other tidbits

I'm in the middle of moving across town, so I've been too busy to do much with this blog lately, but I found a couple interesting things on the internet today:

Dubrow's Table Talk
Published: August 16, 1985

To the Editor:
A eulogy for New York's late Dubrow's cafeteria (news story, Aug. 3):
I went there for lunch a few months ago. As was the custom, a stranger, about my father's age, sat down at my table. He looked at my tray - blintzes, coffee and Boston cream pie - and then did his duty: ''You call that lunch?'' STEPHEN DRUCKER New York, Aug. 5, 1985

Also, in this article about my cousin Joe, who worked at Dubrow's and who has shared several of his memories of Dubrow's, the author mentions the Dubrow's that was opened on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Anyone remember that one? How did it differ? How was it similar? How long was it open?

"The Cafeteria" (VHS, 2000)

Just noticed on there's a bunch of copies of this video for sale. It's pretty good. Kind of depressing. It's an American Playhouse production, released on video in 2000, and based on the short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer. I think I might buy myself a copy at some point, mostly for the footage of Dubrow's, where it was filmed.