Eric Finkelstein and Matt Ross are the new owners/operators of S&P Sandwich Shop, opened in 1928 by Austrian Jewish immigrants Charles Schwadron and Rubin Pulver. Then, it was one of many lunch counters serving garment workers whose factories were located in the neighbourhood lofts.
For most of those workers, English was a second language, their Eastern European culture was brought almost intact to New York, lock stock, and barrel. Lunch counters such as S&P offered menus that catered to that culture.
Today S&P’s menu still offers Jewish specialties like kreplach, matzoh ball soup, latkes, chopped liver, rugelach, kasha varnishkes, and so forth along with old-fashioned sandwiches like grilled cheese, tuna melt, egg / chicken / tuna salad, and chopped olives and cream cheese.
The thing is today’s customers may be nothing like the originals, nearly all of whom worked nearby—even upstairs—in the schmata business, but they are still entrants in the endless parade of perhaps millions of people who have entered S&P’s premises, which looks pretty much exactly now as it did when it opened, right down to its very old telephone.
The nostalgic interior is a maintained original, which partly makes S&P wonderful—diners feel they are part of the continuum, making lunch there akin to being able to step inside an Edward Hopper painting. The matzoh ball soup is on target, heavy on dill, light on the matzoh balls, and liberal with the chicken fat. A nice bowl of soup.