Thank you to everyone who submitted wonderful stories and memories about Zabar's or told us why they loved us. We have chosen the following submissions to star today. Stay tuned for more.
Submitted by Howard Sage, NYC
How in the world do 80 Riverside Drive (Riverside Towers) 50 West 85th Street, 323 West 82nd Street, and 104 Riverside Drive connect with each other? They are addresses where then innocent, new-to-New York residents, may have lived in the 60s and 70s as they tested themselves on NYC streets.
They did their laundry at the 78th Street Laundromat that Susan Sheehan made famous in The New Yorker; they tried Cuban Chinese cuisine at La Caridad (78th and Broadway); and had semi-formal breakfasts at the coffee shop between 79th and 80th.
Friday and Saturday nights, however, did not feel complete if one did not meet up intentionally or by chance with a friend or friends close to midnight at Zabar’s. Festive, luxurious, warming, intense, and tasty describe the quality of the experience one could digest at that hour at that place. And that’s without even mentioning the fulfilling moments of having a knish to take home, pickles to savor, and even some tantalizing breakfast tidbits for Sunday morning. Remember, the friendliness and kindness of the workers drew people there at that hour week after week, month after month, year after year.
In latter days Zabar's servers even offered forgiveness to those who had “sinned” at H & H Bagels. ☺
Recall and enjoy.
Submitted by Roberta Hollander, Los Angeles, CA
In 1975, the brand-new Cuisinart food processor first went on sale, and Zabar’s had it for $135. It was $190 at the department stores. No-brainer, said I and hundreds of others. Zabar’s quickly ran out of Cuisinarts and gave out 962 rain checks to those of us who hadn't been able to get up to 80th St. fast enough. But Cuisinart refused to ship the store any more machines. Zabar’s said it was being punished for cutting the price, and so complained to the FTC and sued Cuisinart for $5 million. Now what? Zabar’s started contacting smaller stores around town, buying up Cuinsinarts like crazy and warehousing them. Finally, at the end of 1976, Zabar’s announced it would start honoring the rain checks. We all schlepped up to 80th and got our life-changing machines. The story in New York Times (12/1/1976) began, “Roberta Hollander filed her rain check under ‘Kitchen’ and forgot about it.”
Submitted by Elizabeth Busch-Le Ne', NYC
1972 found me at the airport in Casablanca en route to Marrakesh. Posing as a world-weary traveler, drama queen that I am, I was standing in aloof solitude but within eavesdropping-distance from a gaggle of American tourists. I was enjoying my exotic fantasy but forgot I was toting a Zabar's shopping bag with some snacks to nosh on the plane. Suddenly, the entire group pounced on me, saying "Not only are you an American, you're a New Yorker and probably an Upper West-sider."! My cover was blown. That gang of fellow UWS-ers became my closest friends. Forty-two years later we're still pals...and all because of my Zabar's shopping bag!
Submitted by Daphna Straus, NYC
I named my little orange and white dog Zabar - that should say it all! I grew up as a child eating coffee beans from the barrel at Zabar's while my parents shopped, and I attribute my lifelong addiction to Zabar's coffee to those early days. Zabar's taught me an incredible vocabulary which I have passed on to my own kids, third generation Zabar's fans: the difference between the best varieties of lox, the fact that coffee is Colombian Supremo, not spelled like the university uptown, the list goes on. Happy birthday Zabar's - may you reign forever on Broadway at 80th. As the old poster says, "Life Without Zabar's - very unappetizing!"
Photo by Mary Bloom Photo
Submitted by David Schiller, Ohio
I had been to New York for college and grad school, then went to teach in Ohio. It was 1972. I drove to New York with a group of kids to go to an anti-war demonstration, during which we were chased and then beaten up by the cops. Before we got in the car to go back to Ohio, I insisted that we stop at Zabar's, and bought three of your largest containers of rice pudding. My shoulders still aching for the cops' nightsticks, I drove down the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the container of rice pudding between my knees, spooning it into my mouth, one after the other, all ten hours of the trip. I felt restored: ambrosia, the food of the gods! All was well, all was right with the world. Zabar's had come to my rescue. I can still taste it.
Submitted by Karen Krett, NYC
Exerpted from "WHAT’S MORE NEW YORK THAN ZABAR’S?" (Read her full story here.)
Why am I thinking about Zabar’s? I’ll tell you why. I’m going to be visiting a dear friend for the day, who lives waaay out on Long Island. I want to bring something, something that she’d enjoy, but something that would provide her with a little piece of the City. The image of a goodie basket from Zabar’s arose in my inner vision. Umm hmmm, I said to myself. That’s it. What could be more New York than Zabar’s? ...
Since it’ a quick bus-ride away, I just came back from Zabar’s. When I entered at the extraordinarily early hour of 9:15 on a Sunday morning, I had to dodge and weave, elbows just slightly akimbo, in order to move across the store from entry to bakery (replete with a palate of handmade French macarons) and fresh bread counter, to prepared foods wafting the fragrant aromas of Chinese loin of pork, two kinds of stuffed cabbage, six kinds of salmon, into the consciousness of the sleepy-eyed avidity of the Upper West Side and beyond shoppers, to the smoked fish and olives and other drool-producing taste treats , to the ….okay, you got the picture.
The word “quintessential” echoed in my mind. Why go anywhere else? This was as New York as it gets.
Submitted by Saul Lerner
Eighty years ago, in 1934, the Nation was in the midst of the Great Depression. By the time of Franklin Roosevelt’s inauguration in March, 1933, twenty-five percent of the American labor force was unemployed, tragedy befell the country, for four years Americans had suffered a continuing decline of the economy, bank failures loomed across the nation, misery stalked the land. The President tried to inject confidence into the nation in the famous statement from his inaugural address, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and through the programs of the New Deal which were established in the first hundred days of his administration and after. Gradually recovery began; in 1934 the economic situation was improving, confidence was slowly being restored, and in the same year, Zabar's courageously launched itself into the dark tragedy of the Depression, by offering the hope, the warmth, the feeling of community, and the inner strength, that comes from good food. As the New Deal sought to cure the Depression, Zabar’s sought to cure the malaise of New Yorkers through the hope that its delicacies brought and through its focus on the inner person.
Best wishes on your eightieth. May your next eighty years be at least as good.
Submitted by Gerry Miller
No Zabar's, no upper West Side. No Zabar’s no Sunday mornings. No Zabar’s, no conversations at the fish counter. No Zabar’s, then supermarkets and corporatized “gourmet” stores. Oy vey.