Matzoh Ball Misery: Fine & Schapiro Has Closed for Good

Fine & Schapiro, the Kosher restaurant at 138 West 72nd Street, has closed its doors for good after 93 years in the same location, according to the general manager of the building where it is located.

“They had two years left on their lease. Business was slow. Because of their age and bad health, they decided to close. That’s the story,” said Joe Kizner, manager of the building, on Tuesday. Our attempts to contact the restaurant’s owners and staff members have not been successful, but Lana Taubes (a member of the ownership family) wrote “time to say goodbye to our dearest customers” on Facebook.

A sign went up at Fine & Schapiro last month saying it was closed for renovations, but tipsters quickly began to send notes that they had heard it was closed. Manhattan Sideways, a site that promotes small business, also said that they had heard it closed.

Fine & Schapiro was apparently the oldest Kosher restaurant in New York City, according to Huffington Post.

“In the 1920’s and 1930’s as large communities of European and Russian immigrants migrated to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, food shops catering to their cultural preferences followed in droves. Fifty years later, a widespread gentrification in this neighborhood dramatically changed the landscape, and Fine & Schapiro was one of only a handful of businesses to survive. In fact, it is the only authentic kosher deli in the twenty-five block stretch from Columbus Circle to West 86th Street.”

While it was no longer as popular as it was during its heyday, Fine & Schapiro still roasted its meat on premises and drew locals as well as tourists who flocked to a New York landmark.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 68 comments | permalink
    1. This Is Worse than the Corona Virus says:

      And north of 86 Street there is an authentic kosher deli? (Technically I suppose there is, since Montreal is north of 86 Street.)

      • sam says:

        The Bronx is also technically north of 86th street

      • Leon says:

        I’m guessing the author thinks that Barney Greengrass is kosher? I am fairly sure it is not, though it is “kosher-style.”

        • UWSHebrew says:

          BG is not kosher. The author is a HuffPo contributer who likely is not familiar with the UWS and got her info from internet searches.

          • This Is Worse than the Corona Virus says:

            Also, BG is not a deli. It’s an appetizing store. Anyone who knows his lox from his latkes will know the difference.

            • Leon says:

              I am aware of all of this. But it is close enough that some young staff reporter from Tulsa who doesn’t know Gefilte Fish from Hamentaschen does not know that. It is “kosher style” and there is a place to sit and eat.

              So much angst. Oy vey.

    2. Viola says:

      I am sooo sad about this! I wish the owners good health and a happy and long retirement but I sure will miss the corned beef sandwiches…

    3. UWSHebrew says:

      Instead of posting a nonsense closed for renovation sign in the window, they should of been straight “we’re closing, thank you to our customers, we’ll miss you”. Could of gone out like Michael Jordan, instead they chose Patrick Ewing.

      • GG says:

        Do you mean the first time Michael Jordan retired from the Bulls in 1993 after his father was killed?? This is when he started playing baseball for a couple years for the White Sox.

        Then he came back to the Bulls in 1995 and won 3 more championships.

        But then he retired AGAIN in 1999 for a couple years and came back again in 2001 to play for the Washington Wizards. Always was weird seeing him in that Wizards jersey…crazy times.:)

        Then he retired for the THIRD and final time in 2003. He was truly the greatest ever to do it. The problem is a lot of these kids weren’t alive to see it and therefore know not of what they speak.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          second retirement. Jordan was truly unbelievable. I was a rabid Knicks fan, and even in those playoff games, I had nothing but respect for his talent and drive. watching his game winning shot against the Jazz, live, was mind-blowing.

          • GG says:

            Same here. I practically lived at the Garden back in the 90’s. Between the Rangers winning the Cup in ’94 and those Patrick Ewing led Knicks making deep playoff runs, I was a happy camper. If it wasn’t for MJ and Hakeem I think Patrick probably has a couple rings.

            Now back to the important issue of the day, where can I get a decent corned beef sandwich around here? hahaha I guess the Second Ave deli is the closest option but still a schlep across town.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              you answered your own question, the crosstown bus is quick and nice. when Starks dunked over Jordan, how THE NEXT DAY the MSG store was selling t-shirts with that image (which they had to pull due to copyright infringement)…what a glorious time to be alive, this city pre-9/11, my youth…

      • chris says:

        if I knew they were about to close for good I would have surely gone in for a couple of hotdogs with.

      • Cato says:

        should HAVE, not should “of”.
        could HAVE, not could “of”.

    4. R. L. Stine says:

      The end of civilization.

    5. Beth Skobel says:

      My parents courted at Fine & Schapiro, and after they married and my brother and I were born, we always went there for family dinners. A large part of my youth (I am now nearly 73) closes with them.

    6. Ben says:

      A real loss for the neighborhood! It feels like this hollowing-out is accelerating, does it not? We’re losing UWS landmarks steeped in tradition and history….and gaining what, exactly? A Target, soulless ‘fast casual’ offerings, and vacant storefronts?

      I shiver to think what havoc the coronavirus will wreak upon our already emaciated retail & restaurant scene in the months to come.

    7. AMO says:

      SO SAD!

    8. L. Braverman says:

      As per your article, there’s a Kosher Deli on W86th?

      What might be it’s name & exact location?

      We ARE talking pastrami and corned beef here, right?

      • Cato says:

        Kasbah Grill on 85th Street. https://www.kasbah-grill.com/

        • UWSHebrew says:

          Kasbah Grill is not a deli.

          • Cato says:

            Don’t tell me, tell them.

            Their menu has an entire section labeled (and I’m cutting and pasting here):

            “DELICATESSEN SANDWICHES

            ~~served with coleslaw and pickle~~

            *Served on your choice of rye, whole wheat or club bread*

            HOT RUMANIAN PASTRAMI
            HOMEMADE ROAST BEEF
            HOT HOMEMADE 1ST CUT CORNED BEEF
            HOMEMADE OVEN ROASTED FRESH TURKEY BREAST
            SMOKED TURKEY BREAST
            ANGEL’S HOMEMADE HOT PICKLED TONGUE
            KASBAH COMBO

            Combine any two deli types of meat for a delicious mouthwatering hot sandwich.”

            But they’re not a deli. OK, if you say so.

            https://www.kasbah-grill.com/kosher-restaurant

            • UWSHebrew says:

              It’s a kosher restaurant using wording like a deli. It’s pre-packaged sliced and cured meats from a Lubavitch meat factory that are re-heated. With the loss of Fine & Schapiro, there are no kosher delis on the UWS. I may treat myself with a trip to the Bronx, to try Liebman’s Kosher Deli for the first time.

            • FERDIE says:

              ANGEL’S HOMEMADE HOT PICKLED TONGUE..LOVE IT!!!!

            • This Is Worse than the Corona Virus says:

              Kasbah Grill is disqualified for geographic rather than taxonomic reasons: it’s on 85 Street, which is not north of 86 Street.

    9. Liifeoong UWS says:

      Isn’t Fischer Brothers kosher?

      As for Fine and Schapiro, an absolute shame. And i am surprised, I always saw plenty of people there.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Fischer Brothers is not a deli.

        • HelenD says:

          How is FB not a deli? They have the same amount of deli food, if not more than F&S.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            I could write a lengthy retort as to why Fischer Brothers is not a deli, but I’ll just leave it at this — they do not cure their own meat, they purchase packaged pastrami/corned beef, which is quite expensive, not cured properly, and is a chewy, tasteless mess.

            • HelenD says:

              I had noooo idea, ty for the info! 😮

            • NYCgirl says:

              UWS Hebrew,
              I admit to kind of being into your food advice, but you should know that on FB&L’s own menu, they say that their corned beef (not pastrami) is cured and cooked on the premises. I do not love everything they make, and they are not F&S of now blessed memory, but they are very nice guys and that’s what they say, in print. And btw, my friends grew up w Liebman’s and always talk about it. Would like to hear your opinion! Haven’t been there yet; my family, when going out, ate at Ratner’s.

            • NYCgirl says:

              UWS Hebrew,
              Or Bernstein’s on Essex!

    10. Karen L. Bruno says:

      So sad 🙁

    11. Watto says:

      I am so sad! Their chicken soup, except for my Grandma’s, was beyond compare. All of their meats were wonderful. I rarely ate in the restaurant – rather picked up and took home. They catered my Mother’s 90th Birthday Party and a year later, her Shiva. I shall really miss them.

    12. Jean Luke says:

      This is a big loss for Upper West Side. F&S had great food and very nice staff that seemed like they had been there for decades.

      Changing tastes in dining and new restaurants such as Friedman’s probably hurt their business. Also costs have so escalated for running restaurants in NYC that its hard to survive unless constantly busy.

      I will miss there Corned Beef sandwiches and amazing Matzoh Ball soups that my kids loved as well. I wish the owners and staff the best of luck and they will be greatly missed.

    13. Lyriclark says:

      I am so sad about this. In my heart I say goodbye to my fine grandparents again. Fine & Shapiro had the only chicken soup that tasted real. It reminded me of hearing Yiddish words around the house and a sense of dignity and love of America that doesn’t exist today. When I walked in there and saw Dr. Brown’s soda and real pastrami I knew I had a past even though everyone was already gone.

      • We Miss Ya, Henny says:

        Re: “Fine & Shapiro had the only chicken soup that tasted real.”

        Okay, besides the stale ‘Waiter, there’s a fly-in-my-soup’ oldies, here’s one that says a lot more about:
        1. the Yiddishe “Kop” (mind);
        2 the ‘only-in-New-York’ sarcasm; and
        3. the Jewish peoples’ love of brainy-humor.

        Thus:
        Sam, a constant lunch patron at his local deli, orders his usual matzoh-ball soup.
        But this day something is wrong.
        Sam: “Max, come taste the soup!”
        Max: “WHAT-T-TTT!” it’s the same soup you order every day!”
        Sam: “Taste the soup!”
        Max: “Okay, nudnik, I’ll taste the soup!…So WHERE’S THE SPOON??”
        SAM: “A-HA!!!!!”

        • This Is Worse than the Corona Virus says:

          Waiter in Jewish restaurant to customer:
          “Is anything anything all right?”

          Two friends discussing experience eating in Jewish restaurant:
          Friend 1: “The food was like poison. I’ll never go there again”
          Friend 2: “And the portions are so small!”

    14. Susan says:

      Dear Mary and Carlos -susan and harry will miss you most and we wish you all the best -he’s the naked apple she’s the hot dog with sauerkraut. Stay well!

    15. David Morris says:

      You know, it was never very good food. Except the sweetbreads And derma, which were delicious.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Pastrami was the second-best kosher pastrami in all of Manhattan, truly delicious (and the price was criminally low, not even breaking the $20 mark). My mother, a senior citizen, said their cabbage soup was the best she’s ever had, as according to her, it was made the real, authentic way, with tiny bits of beef to give the soup some heightened flavor, and white raisins. She lamented that she may never have such great cabbage soup again (I have no idea where I can go to get something similar).

        • LanceBriggat says:

          Cabbage soup with tiny bits of beef and white raisins sounds absolutely disgusting.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            It’s called old-world, classic Eastern European Jewish recipes. You don’t deserve it, go back to Shake Shack.

            • UWS_lifer says:

              Gotta agree with UWSHebrew on this one. This sounds like some old country Jewish soul food to me. My Hungarian grandmother and her sisters used to love something very similar.

              Me and my cousins never did acquire the taste for it…we would just stick to the matzoh ball.

            • LanceBriggat says:

              At least they have bacon cheeseburgers at shake shack!

    16. Gary says:

      It was always a treat to slip in for a lunchtime fatty corned beef sandwich (they sliced it that way for me) on seedless rye and an order of kishka. I’ve lived in the Netherlands for the past 13 years, where there’s precious little yiddishkeit, but had a sense it was always waiting for me on 72nd.

    17. Ooooh, They had the best hot dogs! July 4th will never be the same!

    18. Rachel G says:

      Their Matzo ball soup got me through many a cold without my mother close at hand to make me hers. Very sad.

      • Alan Flacks says:

        A wee comment on this item. Hot chicken (w/ or w/o a matzah ball) soup for a cold. I once read a New England Journal of Medicine article written in mock heroic style by a couple of M.D.s why chicken soup works. Liquid helps “open” the bronchial tubes, the warmer, the faster. Q.E.D.

    19. Chase says:

      I always wanted to go there… alas, i never did. shame on me.

    20. Sherman says:

      This is very sad. My family loved F&S. It got a bit pricy the past few years but it was a nice occasional indulgence.

      I have many fond memories of F&S. There were always customers when I went and they seemed to be doing a good catering/takeout business. The staff was always very friendly. The name still has a lot of goodwill in the neighborhood and it would be great if someone took it over and revamped operations to make it more profitable.

      There are very few kosher delis left in the city. There was a tiny one in The Bronx called Loeser’s that was around since the 1960s but it recently closed. I ate there a couple of times and it was very good.

      There’s still Ben’s by Times Square and Second Avenue Deli. Up in Riverdale there’s Liebman’s that’s very popular.

    21. Bronx Boy says:

      Instead of closing, why don’t they sell the business?

    22. Joe says:

      Thank you for the wonderful article.

    23. Scott Schaffer says:

      Despite all the accolades, I never saw more than a handful of people in there at any one period of time. I went a few times, and enjoyed it, though.

    24. Petunia says:

      I always had delicious chicken soup delivered from this wonderful place whenever I got sick. So sorry they’re gone.

    25. Orn Evans says:

      It wasn’t very clean and the menu wasn’t interesting. Not surprised to see them go. Oh well.

    26. 138 tenant says:

      Very very sad day. Everyone there was always so nice. I never missed a chance to wave or say hello to the people there every time I left the building.

      I don’t think anyone could take their place. Enjoy a very much deserved retirement. I’ll miss the hot dogs and pastrami more than anything.

    27. Stu says:

      Riverdale was a hot spot – you had both Loeser’s — with arguably the best Pastrami in NY — and Liebman’s. We would go up from time to time. I think Loeser’s recently closed. Can anyone confirm?

    28. Marsha Rosenbaum says:

      As a San Francisco Jew, I learned so much about Kosher from “dining” at Fine and Schapiro, like the time I tried to order sour cream to accompany my latkes and was immediately admonished by my companions.

      Best burgers anywhere!

    29. Cheryl Rosenberg says:

      Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

    30. Capt. Bernie says:

      for the best pastrami sandwich around come to Brooklyn. The Mill Basin Deli.

    31. I cant say I was a fan, I thought too often heimish met grungy, stodgy, even frankly funky at times (the food, the service, the dishes, everything): not a desirable combo in the restaurant business. Still I was sorry to see them close. They were a valuable part of our community.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        “I thought too often heimish met grungy, stodgy, even frankly funky at times”. — Mushmouth doubletalk. Says the woman who used to have a restaurant, but no more.