Len Berk, an accountant-turned-lox-slicer at Zabar’s, was given special recognition from the city and state on Monday. Both Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul stopped by Zabar’s to recognize his service. Gothamist captured a funny back-and-forth that Berk had with Hochul.
In an exchange outside the Upper West Side gourmet food emporium, Hochul said it was “big deal” that he had come back. Berk demurred, “I don’t know about a big deal, but it’s a lot of fun.”
“People see you behind the counter, they feel like we’re getting back to normal,” she pointed out. “That’s what it’s all about.”
“Getting back to normal, that’s a good thing to symbolize,” Berk agreed.
“You’re the embodiment of that,” Hochul said, with Brewer next to her. “Gale and I are dubbing you that—Mr. Getting Back to Normal.”
“Okay,” Berk declared. “I accept.”
Berk was furloughed last year as the pandemic spread because his supervisor didn’t want to put him at risk. He went back to work last month after being fully vaccinated.
Berk had joined Zabar’s after retiring as an accountant in 1994, because why not. He told more of his story to The Forward in the video below.