(New York Jewish Week) — The iconic Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse — the Lower East Side eatery famous for chopped liver prepared tableside, carafes of schmaltz on the tables and its shticky, in-house entertainer, Dani Luv — is mounting a comeback.
According to Eater New York, the Ashkenazi-influenced restaurant — which shuttered in January 2021 during the pandemic — has a lease “in the works” at 191 Orchard St., between Houston and Stanton streets. The restaurant is “pursuing a liquor license application” with Community Board 3, according to the online publication.
Liquor — specifically vodka — was an essential part of the Sammy’s experience; it was not for nothing that it was known as a place “where every night was a bar mitzvah.” As New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells wrote in his 2014 review: “Known for selling vodka bottles encased in ice, Sammy’s is New York’s original bottle-service restaurant, and still the only tolerable one.”
Notably, in that same review, Wells dropped two of the three stars awarded by one of his predecessors, pioneering restaurant critic Mimi Sheraton, who wrote of owner Stan Zimmerman in 1978: “Mr. Zimmerman has made Sammy’s a huge success, lively, Bohemian, with a mixture of customers that include judges and politicians, union officials and artists in blue jeans, uptowners dressed to the teeth in Gucci trademarks and a double‐parked row of white Lincolns and black Cadillacs that can be seen almost any night of the week.”
In 2014, Wells described it thusly: “Sammy’s is still loudly, raucously, endlessly, embracingly Jewish, a permanent underground bar mitzvah where Gentiles can act like Jews and Jews can act like themselves.”
Located in a “dark and dingy” basement at 157 Chrystie Street, Sammy’s had been in business for 47 years — most recently run by Zimmerman’s son, David, until its abrupt closure. “All the years of devouring chopped liver with our special schmaltz, schmeared on rye bread with a side of pickles and a shot (or glass) of frozen vodka to wash it down will be remembered fondly,” the restaurant said in an Instagram post announcing its closure — where it also vowed to return one day. “We may be closed now, but when all this is over and we feel safe enough to hold hands during the hora, we will be back stronger, louder, and tastier than ever before.”
Since then, Sammy’s fans have made do with an occasional pop-up “Shabbat dinner series” that featured “Sammy’s Roumanian-themed food” at Quality Eats, and entertainer Dani Luv has been making the rounds, too.
“It’s all the dancing over the years,” Luv told the New York Jewish Week in May 2022 about his favorite thing about performing at Sammy’s. “When we did a hora, it was a 15-minute hora, where the Jews and Christians and African-American and Chinese New Yorkers were all dancing. That’s something that can only happen in New York. It would stop and start and stop and start again, always with a lot of jokes in between. It was really comedy, dancing and music. It was always the highlight of the evening.”
When asked what made Sammy’s special, “it was like nothing else,” Luv said. “The style was Jewish. The food was close to Jewish, some things were very Jewish. It was basically Eastern European Jewish food. Very basic food, but great food.”
“I think it’s important to have at least one place that reminds us of the old days, that feels very authentic, that connects us to the Jews on the Lower East Side and Chrystie Street at the beginning of the century through World War II,” he added.
According to Eater, Sammy’s will need liquor license approval from the community board in to open on Orchard Street; a meeting is on the schedule for mid-May.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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