Friday, October 26, 2007

Community evolved

I found this to be an interesting reflection on the meaning of Dubrow's. This is part of a longer piece about Square One, a restaurant in San Francisco, CA. The owner, Joyce Goldstein, also mentions Dubrow's Cafeteria in the introduction of her cookbook Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen, as she is talking about the influences on her cooking.

"The shaping of Square One began in Joyce Goldstein's childhood, when the family lived in an apartment building in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Brooklyn. Community evolved and was maintained in the local delicatessen, in Dubrow's Cafeteria, in Roseman's grocery, and in Mr. Silverstein's candy store. On the streets you saw people, she recalls, but in those places you got to know them. "

(Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories About the "Great Good Places" at the Heart of Our Communities, edited by Ray Oldenburg, 2001)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Every customer was a half hour

I found a couple interesting books at the library, and I'll be posting my finds here over the next few weeks. One of them is a collection of oral history of Brooklyn from the mid-twentieth century. Here's three quotes I found about Dubrow's:

DAN LURIE: "On Saturdays, I'd put on a nice shirt and stroll up and down Pitkin Avenue. It was the Fifth Avenue of Brooklyn, with stores like Abe Stark's men's clothing, Fisher Brothers' ladies coats and suits, Dubrow's or Diamond and Coopersberg furniture."

KARL BERNSTEIN: "'You're all a bunch of Kings Highway bourgeoisie,' Miss Deborah Tannenbaum would tell us. 'You hang around in front of Dubrow's getting vicarious thrills out of life.' I didn't understand what she was talking about. Miss Tannenbaum was only about five feet tall, but she was dynamite. She taught only the best English classes at Madison, on such a high level. We read Portrait of an Artist, and I became so scared to death of going to hell, I hardly ever opened my mouth, I was so afraid of that woman. But I sat down and took the English Regents and got a 96."

MARTY ADLER: "A few blocks before Ocean Avenue, just past the Brighton el, was Dubrow's Cafeteria. That's where you ended up on a Friday night. If you were lucky enough to have a car, you kept it down to three guys so there's be room in case you picked up some girls. The Madison and Midwood cheerleaders were there, and they were the prettiest. You'd take them to a movie, or someone's party. Around midnight, you would drop by Dubrow's again to see if any of the other guys were around. You'd tell stories about what happened thatn night and then hook up for a ball game the next day."

(It Happened in Brooklyn: An oral history of growing up in the borough in the 1940's, '50's, and '60's by Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer, 1993)

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I went to Manhattan this past weekend, and had a wonderful visit. I went to Katz's and met Marcia Bricker, who has contributed many amazing photographs of Dubrow's. We are both excited about the possibility of putting together a documentary of Dubrow's. She recently had her first film selected for the Coney Island Film Festival - very exciting!

She requested that I try and recap the chronology and also the genealogy of Dubrow's Cafeteria and the Dubrow's family, so that's what I'm going to do. Here's what I've got so far:

1907: Simon and Rivka Soloway, parents of Rose Dubrow, emigrate from what is now known as Belarus.

1914: Benjamin and Rose Dubrow emigrated. Little is known about Benjamin's family, except that he had a sister named Sylvia who stayed behind.  At the time of the Dubrow family emigration, George, Fannie, and Lila had all been born.  Sylvia was in utero, and Rose was the first child born in America.

1929: Bejamin opened Dubrow's Cafeteria on Eastern Parkway. Henry Jablonski Sr was a counterman.

1939: Benjamin opened Dubrow's Cafeteria on King's Highway.
Leo Martin was an assistant manager.

1940: Henry Jablonski Jr began working at Dubrow's Cafeteria on Eastern Parkway as a dishwasher. He would stay until the Eastern Parkway and King's Highway restaurants had both closed, eventually working as a manager.

1942: Property was purchased on King's Highway - possibly for a slight expansion?

1952: Dubrow's Cafeteria opens in Manhattan (7th Ave and 38th)
Max Tobin, a manager, was held up at the Manhattan Dubrow's.

1956: George Dubrow, a manager, died in a car accident.

1958 Benjamin Dubrow died.

1959: Leo Martin left Dubrow's to work at another restaurant.

1968: Leo returned, as manager of the Manhattan Dubrow's.

1970: Irwin Dubrow, a manager, killed himself.

1983: "The Cafeteria" is filmed in Dubrow's. Marcia pointed out it is "practically a documentary" about Dubrow's, and she has some great digitized photographs from the movie.

1985: Manhattan Dubrow's closed.

2000: Leo Martin died.

2001: Irving Kaplan, a manager and an owner, died.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A walk through the garment district

This picture comes from an article entitled "An Unhurried Walk in the Garment Center" by Jennifer Dunning. It is an interesting piece about a walking tour which was conducted in New York's garment district in 1980. Notice Dubrow's Cafeteria in the background - you can see part of the sign in the upper right corner.

Among other things, the article talks about how Dubrow's fit into the landscape of the garment district:

"The garment district is not only concentrated but also compartmentalized...'The district is more important as a display and distribution area than a major manufacturing area,' (James) Shenton saysm pointing up to a sooty Gothic-style emporium devoted largely to designer samples. 'Much of the manufacturing is done now in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, though there is a revitalization of small-scale units of productions with the move back of Chinese to Chinatown and to Greeks to Astoria'...everything can be bought, it seems on Seventh Avenue, from "absolutely the best chocolate chip cookies in New York to holidays in Rumania.

On the corner of 38th Street alone, the fames Dubrow's Cafeteria and Lou Siegel's restaurant stand cheek by jowl with the Spanish Taverna. And each block has the most astonishing number of fast food restaurants, which suggests the enormous concentration of people here. A quarter of a million to 300,000 people pass through this area in the course of a normal workday.

(New York Times, Friday, July 11, 1980)