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A ‘Jewish luncheonette’ returns to the Flatiron District, with a killer egg cream

(New York Jewish Week) — It’s just after 1 p.m. on an unseasonably warm autumn day, and the line at the recently opened Flatiron restaurant S&P, which describes itself as “a new place for a very old lunch counter,” is out the door.

Fortunately for my rumbling stomach, the crowd is mostly due to the tight quarters within: Many customers are simply waiting for takeout orders of pastrami sandwiches and matzah ball soup. The barstool seating at the vintage marble counter means space near the entrance is at a premium, and my dining companion (none other than Shannon Sarna, the editor of The Nosher) and I are quickly seated at a two-top in the cramped yet convivial rear, which is dominated by a long green banquette.

S&P officially opened Sept. 28, the latest venture from Eric Finkelstein and Matt Ross, the founders of hip local sandwich mini-chain Court Street Grocers. It’s the newest iteration of an old-school luncheonette at 174 Fifth Ave., which first opened in 1928 and had been known for decades as Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop.

I myself had once been a regular Eisenberg’s customer: At the tail-end of the ’90s, my first “real” job in New York was at the Flatiron Building across the street. To me — and, clearly, to many other New Yorkers — Eisenberg’s was the kind of place that seemed to be entwined with the very fabric of the city, like pigeons, hot dog carts and subway cars. I can’t say the food was particularly good at Eisenberg’s, but washing down a tuna melt with an egg cream in the vintage environs always felt special.

After a series of owners, Eisenberg’s shuttered for good during the pandemic in March 2021. Finkelstein and Ross — who first met as undergraduates at the Rhode Island School of Design, where they graduated in 2003 — were tapped to take over the space this spring, as the building’s landlord was committed to having a tenant who would preserve the vibe (if not the name, due to legal reasons) of Eisenberg’s.

The partners have spiffed up the interior and the menu a tad — but not enough so that the eatery feels unrecognizable. In fact S&P very much feels the same as Eisenberg’s always has, even if the floor is new and dishes such as bananas and sour cream are recent additions. As Finkelstein, 40, who grew up in a Jewish family in Hollis Hills, Queens, told me in a phone interview: “This is the kind of food I grew up around and with.”

In an effort to preserve the space’s long history, the new owners settled on a name that honors the restaurant’s original owners, Charles Schwadron and Rubin Pulver. “You can see that these two guys, Schwadron and Pulver, had built this place out right when the building was erected, and they were going to run a restaurant together,” Finkelstein said, explaining research that included scouring old lawsuits and tax documents. “In a 1940 tax photo, which is how we found out it had been called S&P, you can see five other sandwich shops on the same block.”

Following a hectic weekday lunch rush, I spoke with Finkelstein about the luncheonette’s legacy, its Jewish influences and how to make a perfect egg cream.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

New York Jewish Week: Eisenberg’s felt like the kind of place that’s been around forever — and the new S&P still does. The nostalgia is there, but at the same time, the restaurant really feels like a living, breathing part of the city. Is that what you were aiming for?

Eric Finkelstein: This kind of place has always been really important to my business partner, Matt [Ross], and I — and to, obviously, a lot of people in New York. It’s the kind of place that people associate with New York. When you think about the city, you assume that these places are everywhere — and they should be. There are a number of reasons why they aren’t; some of them are organic, and some of them aren’t.

We found ourselves with an opportunity to help the city retain this one. And I think, fundamentally, what we really wanted to do was just make sure that if we were going to do this, that we did it in a way that was honest — where we tried to make the best food that we can, and try to provide the most appropriate level of service that we can, and that it’s not, to use a phrase Matt uses, a “theme-park version.” Because we definitely feel that this kind of thing is timeless, and it’s not, you know, it’s not an exercise in nostalgia to try to keep this place open.

Were you familiar with Eisenberg’s before you opened S&P?

I wasn’t aware of Eisenberg’s as a kid. My father definitely knew of it; my great-grandparents worked in the neighborhood, where there were a ton of places like Eisenberg’s. When we opened Court Street Grocers [in 2010], Matt and I used a number of things as a model for what we wanted to do [and this was one of them]. Like everybody else, I was kind of bummed to see the place had declined so precipitously in those last couple of years, then even more devastated to see it close.

I should say, obviously, that we are not Eisenberg’s. We don’t have the right to use that name. S&P is a different business. But one of the things that I loved so much about Eisenberg’s is that it was a lunch counter, that, you know, there were hundreds, or maybe thousands of lunch counters exactly like it in New York, with the same exact specs for the marble countertop and the mirrored back bar.

There are a lot of traditional Jewish foods on the menu, like latkes and matzah brei, but you also have things like cheeseburgers and bacon. Would you consider S&P a Jewish deli, or do you see it as Jewish in any way?

I would consider it a Jewish luncheonette. I think a deli has counter service, like a deli counter. Maybe a deli food case, and you could order food to go, or you could sit down at a table and maybe get a table service. But I think the lunch counter aspect of it makes it not a deli but a luncheonette.

It’s obviously not kosher. But, you know, I think there’s a tradition of this kind of lunch counter in New York that was Jewish inflected. And even a lot of diners have a lot of traditional Jewish food on their menus, for whatever reason, just because it’s New York.

I read that S&P’s desserts are made by your relatives. I love how this is a family business — a lot of the classic Jewish restaurants in the city, like Katz’s Delicatessen and Russ & Daughters, are generations-old family businesses. Do you feel like you’re recreating some of that, with something new?

My father makes the rugelach and both of Matt’s parents make the carrot cake.

The Court Street Grocers business, we’ve always thought of it as a kind of mom-and-pop-style operation. Decisions are made based on what’s actually happening with interactions between the customers and the staff, versus just kind of coming up with what people call “a concept” and executing it. These places should be living and breathing things that change.

Bonus question: I ordered a tuna melt and an egg cream at S&P, just like I used to at Eisenberg’s. I like egg creams OK but I don’t generally love them. But the one I had at S&P was by far the best egg cream I’ve ever had. What’s your secret?

First of all, we have good seltzer — we made sure that we had a good seltzer system put in, with the right amount of carbon dioxide, pressure, and a way that we can get it cold enough, which is a big deal. We’re using good milk, and we’re using Fox’s U-Bet [chocolate] syrup. So it’s sort of the same ingredients that everybody uses. I don’t know if ours is better, but the order of operations is really important. Before we opened we tried, over and over again, different ways of making it, like you put the chocolate syrup and then the milk. [Or] you put the milk and seltzer and then syrup. We’ve gotten to a place where we’re really satisfied. The amount of syrup is really important —  I think it’s just proportions and order of operations, and then doing your best to try to not beat out all the carbonation.

The post A ‘Jewish luncheonette’ returns to the Flatiron District, with a killer egg cream appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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