Talking Shop with ‘The Last Jewish Waiter’ at Katz’s [INTERVIEW]
Earlier this week, a Katz’s Deli waiter name David Manheim made a splash on the local scene with a web series about his day-to-day called The Last Jewish Waiter. Response varied from hilarity to “oh, how sad.” We caught up with Manheim to ask a few questions about working at the classic eatery, and about whether the attitude is a schtick…
BOWERY BOOGIE: How long have you worked at Katz’s Deli? How has the clientele there changed, if at all?
DAVID MANHEIM: I’ve worked at Katz’s since 2008, but I also worked there when I was in college, over the summers. The clientele changed a lot since I was 20. I don’t remember so many tourists! I remember more old school New York people, like my grandparents’ generation, when they were still vital. It was a much different vibe. It’s sad that it’s gone.
On the other hand, I doubt they’d have tipped well…
BB: What’s your favorite item on the menu?
DM: I don’t have a favorite item. In general, I eat everything there, I eat turkey more than anything, in many different ways. Hot, cold, grilled, deep fried, in salads… Eating is a vital creative activity for anyone who works at Katz’s.
BB: Full sour or half-sour pickles?
DM: Depends. I prefer half sours in general, closer to cucumbers, when they’re cold and crunchy. But sometimes I’ll go for the full. Especially with cheese burgers.
BB: As part of the waitstaff, what would be your number one pet peeve?
DM: I have way too many. I don’t have a problem with the other waiters, nearly as much as they do with me. I really enjoy all of them. We are a misfit team that sometimes doesn’t play well together, like The Bad News Bears.
BB: What’s the strangest question/comment that came from a customer?
DM: How big is the liter (of soda)?
BB: In the Last Jewish Waiter, we see you giving both staff and customers a hard time. Is this cantankerous character really your persona or just an act for the series?
DM: I don’t know. I’m such a dick at work, I hope I’m not really like that, but who knows? Probably I’m a dick sometimes, but it’s nice to be nice too. Just not when I’m working.
BB: We couldn’t help but notice parallels to Clerks. Have you ever had a Dante meltdown moment (e.g. hockey on the roof)?
DM: I don’t remember Clerks that well, but I do love Kevin Smith. I have meltdowns constantly, it’s pathetic. I’m like a little girl in there.
BB: How many episodes of The Last Jewish Waiter do you foresee producing? And how has the response been from Katz’s?
DM: We plan on making 8 episodes this summer, but it’ll be a miracle if we get through 4.
BB: What are some of your favorite LES haunts?
DM: I Iove Tompkins Square Park, my apartment. I don’t go out too much. I order from Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop constantly.
BB: Funniest story from working at Katz’s?
DM: There’s always funny shit happening at Katz’s. You just have to be there for a long time to catch it.