Photo by Vinnie Mazzone
Our friend Vinnie Mazzone from “Chicken Masters,” whose pleasant phone greeting in a thick Brooklyn accent — “Thank you for calling Chicken Masters, this is Vinnie speaking” — never fails to make me smile, sent us the above photo.
Major blast from the past, that.
Vinnie tells us that the “porcelain sign” (signs were made out of porcelain?) from the old H&S Hebrew National Deli is still visible under the awning of Top Taco & Top China, 1654 Sheepshead Bay Road, and that, if memory serves, the owner’s name was Leo.
Funnily enough, Lost City’s Brooks of Sheffield — a guy who loves him some old-timey signage — actually featured Top Taco & Top China on his site this past July, calling it “A Good Sign” without noticing the “Even Better Sign” that was concealed beneath it.
I used to go to H&S quite a lot as a kid in the ’80s, always eating the hot dogs and French fries (or stuffed derma! …smothered in gravy…) because, as a pre-teen, I wasn’t yet introduced to the mysterious, succulent wonders of hot pastrami. Then, before you could say “chopped liver,” it was gone.
How many of us remember the old deli? There are days that I walk along Sheepshead Bay Road and I am still half expecting to see H&S, Wiesen’s, and the colossal roller palace but, alas, all those institutions have gone the way of similar legendary local establishments, such as The Flame (followed by the also defunct Jahn’s), Dubrow’s, Martin’s and Clement’s (followed by the also defunct New Clement’s).
One of the truisms about the internet that always gnawed at me is that the only information that can be found on the web has to have been put there by someone in the first place. When I Google “H&S Hebrew National Deli + Sheepshead Bay Road,” the only direct hit generated is from this post… written by me.
So please, tell me us your memories of the H&S Hebrew National Deli, of blessed memory. Write long stories in the comments about your favorite experiences there, who you remember behind the counter (Leo?), your favorite items on the menu and, if you have photos — please — send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m trying to recapture my youth here.