For those of you who believe or have experienced how some of the most amazing things in life come from unexpected places, well here is a story for you.
Matt Pomerantz, owner and founder of Zucker’s, knows New York. He was born in Brooklyn, grew up in New York, works in New York and currently lives in Brooklyn. The same could not be said about Matt’s knowledge of and experience with bagels and smoked fish when he opened his first bagel shop back in 1994.
Back then Matt was working on Wall Street and opening a bagel shop was really an idea of something for his family. Matt’s parents, Roslyn Marilyn Zucker Pomerantz and Murray Pomerantz had owned a well-known ladies clothing business on Rivington Street in the Lower East Side for over 35 years. Times had changed, business changed and the family needed a new business.
So without any formal restaurant experience or training, just a healthy love of ethnic food and a lifetime eating classic dishes both at home and at New York institutions, the Pomerantz bagel business was born.
Matt can tell you colorful tales for hours about growing up in New York. How he worked with his father Murray at the clothing shop and was surrounded by well-known eateries. Some are still standing like Russ & Daughter’s and some are part of food history like Ratner’s and Garden Dairy Cafeteria. The Pomerantz family would frequent these places for business lunches or dinners, especially on Sunday nights. Sunday night was Schmulka Bernstein night. A spot on Essex Street that was a kosher Jewish delicatessen and Chinese restaurant all wrapped into one.
Matt can also describe summers in The Catskills working at Brown’s as a busboy. Picture “Dirty Dancing” — an era gone by; Summer bungalow colonies in The Catskills; under 2 hours from New York City. While comedians, singers and entertainers like Jerry Lewis, Henny Youngman and Engelbert Humberdinck were performing, Matt was serving and clearing blintzes, bagels, herring in cream sauce, perogies, gefilte fish and more.
Still, none of this was preparation to own and operate a bagel shop. When the shop was getting ready to make their first batch of bagels, Matt was hit with the news that the bagel machine operator was unable to come to work. So scrambling to be ready for the big day, he hired a guy to hand-roll and kettle-boil the bagels. The bagels were so good that the rolling machine was immediately retired and never used again.
And the rest is history. Matt left his job on Wall Street to pursue the family business, a love of bagels and great food. He named Zucker’s after his mother, Roslyn Marilyn Zucker Pomerantz. From Rivington Street to Wall Street to Chelsea to Tribeca to Grand Central to ? Maybe it all came around full circle or should we say full bagel?
Zucker’s the authentic NYC hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagel.