Memories of Sammy’s Roumanian
I read the article about Sammy’s Roumanian (“Legendary NY Jewish restaurant Sammy’s Roumanian closes but vows to reopen after COVID era,” Jan. 8) with great interest, as it brought back some wonderful memories for me.
My father, David, owned Sammy’s, then called Parkway Restaurant, for about 30 years. Sammy was previously a busboy/waiter at that time, before he and several others purchased it.
My father came to the U.S. from Romania, alone, as a teenager, and did not speak English. His first job was as a dishwasher at a restaurant on the Lower East Side. He worked his way up to chef over the years. At the Parkway, he insisted on doing all the cooking and food purchasing by himself. He wouldn’t permit anyone else to handle any food. He would meticulously select all the food to be used that day in the morning. My younger brother, Paul, and I would occasionally “work the register” on busy Sundays, as well as slice thick, heavy rye breads, and also fetch pickles from a huge barrel and prepare salads.
My father would give priority to hiring refugees, Europeans and Puerto Ricans. He taught several the art of “working the grille.” He was extremely generous with all his employees. When my father was not working that day, and customers learned of this, many would leave without ordering, saying that they’ll return next time.
As indicated in the article, most of the clientele were “steady customers,” families and friends who came the same time and day each week, and even sat at the same table. The waiters would simply peek their heads into the tiny kitchen, and yell out “Hesh and his wife are here!” My father would know exactly what their order was, what to prepare and how to prepare it. No further details needed! Often celebrities from the Yiddish and Broadway theaters ate there, as well as athletes and politicians. I once met Gov. Marvin Mandel there.
Thank you for the memory! Please convey my regards to the present owner, Mr. Zimmerman.
I am afraid this is a pipe dream (“The promising dawn of a new day,” Jan. 29).
Although President Joe Biden is sincere in his striving for unity, there is too much hate in this country at this time to make it so. We still have Republicans who are spouting the party line about Biden not being president. We have QAnon, the Proud Boys and so many other white nationalist groups fighting against what this country stands for. Biden has his work cut out for him for sure. I only hope that, one day, people will wake up and see that we have someone running this country who cares about all the people, not someone who only cares about himself and how to scam the people to make more money.