How many NYC businesses do you know that have survived 110 years? On March 29, 2020, Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery will celebrate their founding from a pushcart on Coney Island in 1890 to their current location on East Houston Street. In honor of this very special occasion, they will be selling Knishes for $1.10 to the first 110 sold that day.
Known for Knishes, Yonah Shimmel has a wide menu in gourmet kosher soul food that includes every conceivable kind of Knish including vegan, Potato Latke, Noodle Kugel or Kasha Varnishkes, Bagels, Homemade Borscht, Apple Strudel, Egg Creams and Dr. Brown sodas!
Taking a look back to 1890, Yonah, a Romanian rabbi, opened a pushcart with his wife in Coney Island. After much success with their “potato and kasha dumplings” known as knishes, they went into business with cousin Joseph Bergerand in 1910, opening the shop where they reside today, on East Houston Street.
The dumbwaiter, images above and below, have been in operation for more than 100 years, as Yonah Schimmel continues to bake in their basement
The beloved bakery is so much a part of the heart and soul of New York that a portrait of the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery by Hedy Pagremanski (b.1929) is in the permanent collection of the Museum of the City of New York. Jewish-Irish painter Harry Kerroff painted this bakery on a trip to New York in 1939.
The walls within the historic shop bring new meaning to the saying, “If these walls could talk,” since they actually document New York and Jewish America from the time they opened their doors.
Yonah Schimmel’s was so integral to the Lower East Side that “No New York politician in the last fifty years has been elected to public office without having at least one photograph taken showing him on the Lower East Side with a knish in his face,” according to Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder’s 1968 column in New York Magazine “Underground Eats.” That proclamation is printed on a small flier, and still taped to the wall above a counter in the store.
Today, the shop continues to be a family business, owned by Yonah’s great nephew.
Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery is located at 137 East Houston Street, between First and Second Avenue, in the Lower East Side, NYC.
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