17 June 2011

The Other Schimmel



Yonah Schimmel is the stuff of New York legend. The shop he started on the Lower East Side is probably the best known knishery in the United States.

But, there was another Schimmel in the food-slinging business. I was recently contacted by the granddaughter of Leo Schimel (who spelled his name with one less "m"). Leo was Yonah's brother. Around the same time Yonah started his knishery, Leo opened a dairy restaurant in Jewish Williamsburg. It was called Sunset, or, possibly, Famous Sunset, and it was on Havemeyer Street. Maybe 203 Havemeyer Street. The granddaughter isn't sure. And Leo ran it in the early 1940s.

I've done some digging, but come up with nothing about Leo Schimel, or a restaurant called Sunset in Williamsburg. I did learn, however, that 203 Havemeyer was indeed a restaurant of some kind in 1945. But that's as close as I came.

Does anyone out there, by any chance, have any information about this lost link in the Schimmel/Schimel chain?

Yonah Schimmel, for the record, is still in the family, but hasn't been run by a Schimmel in forever. Schimmel began selling knishes from a cart in 1890. He opened the store with his cousin Joseph Berger, but left the business soon after. Berger continued to run it and moved to the current location on E. Houston Street. It's currently run by Yonah's great nephew, Alex Wolfman.

3 comments:

Proud NIMBY said...

Around 1980, I guess when the new owner took over, the quality of the knishes immediately and noticeably went downhill.
Less filling and more dough was the culprit. I was not the only one to notice this.

After a couple of visits, I ceased going, although I had been going there for over a dozen years.

Similar to Vesuvio Bakery on Prince Street. When Tony Dapolito died, the new owner, a Gigante, immediately changed the recipe on the whole wheat Italian bread, making it "lighter", he said. Yeah, he decreased the amount of dough, pumped in air, and increased the price 50%.

Any wonder he soon closed?

hbherman said...

I am 75 years old and lived in Williamsburg until 1952. I ate at the Sunset Cafeteria many times as I liked blintzes with sour cream. They also had proto-steak which I didn't care for. Your address seems to me to be about right. I knew nothing about the management, however.

SternViews said...

Hello Knish Lovers-- My great-grandfather was Joseph Berger, who operated Yonah Schimmel's.
BTW-- The Schimmels were from an area in Western Ukraine known as Galicia. They were not Rumanian-- which is commonly disseminated.
An earlier post mentioned Yonah's nephew Leo! I have a pretty good genealogical tree for the Schimmel family. Would be happy to share with those that are interested. Love live the Knish!