“This is some bris,” wisecracked one reporter, as Jack Lebewohl unleashed yards of linked nickel schtickel sausages from a brown box along the 33rd Street sidewalk.
His son, Jeremy Lebewohl, meanwhile, brandished a foot-long pair of scissors.
At least 20 members of the press corps, ranging from Reuters to Jewish Week, were on hand as the Lebewohls’ cut the ceremonial salami and officially reopened the clan’s hallowed Second Avenue Deli on Monday.
“Here’s a circumsized one,” Jack Lebewohl joked, handing off a partially gnawed sausage to an employee.
Behind them, a plaque hung in memory of deli founder Abe Lebewohl, whose 1996 murder remains unsolved. (A poster offering a reward for information in the case was also posted.)
Inside, reporters and cameramen jockeyed with customers and employees for elbow room along the shiny new deli counter. In the booth-lined seating area, Jeremy Lebewohl fielded questions about the new location.
“Everything in here is new, everything in here is top notch,” he said. “All the wood trimming is mahogany, granite counter tops at the bar–I really didn’t spare any expense.”
The deli’s famous menu remains mostly the same, though every table will now be treated to complimentary samples of gribenes. “Gribenes is deep-fried chicken skin, covered in fried onions,” Jeremy Lebewohl explained. “There are so many things on the menu that I think people would love. But when people come into a deli, they know we have pastrami, they know we have chopped liver. I want them to try other things.”
The arrival of the Lebewohls’ renowned eatery in Murray Hill might sound ominous to the folks at Sarge’s, the neighborhood’s longstanding Jewish deli, just four blocks up Third Avenue.
But Jeremy Lebewohl instead expressed hope for some pastrami-laden synergy in the ‘hood.
“Nothing would make me happier than if people start saying, ‘If you want the best deli food in Manhattan, you go to Third Avenue,'” he said. “That would be fantastic.”