11 December 2009

Breaking: Kleefeld Descendent Emerges

It happens from time to time. I dig around in the history of an old business, and then, shortly after, a descendent of the original merchant finds my posts and contacts me out of the blue.

Last month, when I posted my series of fact-finding posts about the formerly mysterious Brooks 1890 Restaurant in Long Island City—uncovering, with the inestimable help of reader Ian Schoenherr, that it used to be the old Long Island City City Hall, and then a bar/hotel/meeting place owned by Martin Heilbut and Herman Kleefeld (Whose initials can be found in stained glass behind the old bar)—I wondered if a Heilbut or a Kleefeld might be out there somewhere tracking the progress of the investigation.

Indeed, it was so! Today I was contacted by Kenneth Kleefeld, grandson of Herman, and he has offered another piece to the puzzle. Heilbut and Kleefeld bought the building in 1910, and I was speculated that, when Prohibition came, they turned it into a speakeasy. This is exactly what they did:

Thanks for the research. My grandfather was Herman Kleefeld. His restaurant became something of a speakeasy, frequented by judges from across the street during Prohibition, to whom beverages were served in teacups.

--Kenneth Kleefeld

So, Heilbut descendants—what's taking you so long?

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