For any food lover living in New York, Zabar's is one of those institutions we naively believe has always been around and will always be around. Its crowded aisles and barking counterpeople seem like the very fabric of the city, destined to live on like Methuselah. And yet, any food lover who's lived in the city long enough has watched many beloved institutions close, the victims of rising rents, big box competition, and aging proprietors.
This weekend's New York Times had an article on Zabar's that reminded us to appreciate what we've got before it's gone.
Saul Zabar, the man who turned Zabar's into the gourmet food and housewares store that it is today, turns 80 this Wednesday. The store itself is comparatively a youngster; it won't turn 75 until next year.
In celebration, Saturday's New York Times has a read-worthy article on Zabar, with an accompanying audio slideshow. Your heartstrings will get tugged on, with tales of how Zabar's has supported the city and their employees. Not only did they give $5 million to build a nursery school, but they regularly loan money to employees and even paid half the tuition for an employee's disabled son's boarding school. It's almost a remake of "It's a Wonderful Life" but with more smoked herring and coffee beans.
Speaking of those coffee beans, the Daily News is also cheering for Mr. Zabar's birthday. They've got an accompanying multi-media piece online as well, although theirs focuses on the unique coffee roasting operation the octogenarian started 40 years ago.
The good news is, Zabar's isn't going anywhere for now. They own their store, two of their children work there, and Saul has no plans of retiring. And yet, shouldn't you run out and get some lox and a pound of pastrami, just in case?
Image: Richard Perry for The New York Times
Related: Zabar's Houseware's Department