Revisit Schmulka Bernstein’s on Essex Street with this Classic 1970s Primer [VIDEO]

Posted on: December 21st, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Kino Library

For such an iconic restaurant, it’s quite a shame that there isn’t much publicly accessible imagery of Bernstein-on-Essex (aka Schmulka Bernstein’s). Don’t fret. Here’s one better.

Stock footage company Kino Library recently uploaded a short clip (0:38) shot in the 1970s, which describes the curious cuisine of Kosher Chinese food (and the phenomenon of eating it on Christmas), practically invented by Bernstein’s. It’s great to see the bustling establishment in its heyday.

The real Schmulka Bernstein actually ran a Kosher butcher shop on Rivington Street. It was his eldest son, Sol, who founded Bernstein on Essex in 1959 when he moved his Rivington Street delicatessen to 133 Essex. One of Schmulka’s granddaughters previously wrote the following in a Bowery Boogie guest piece:

Uncle Sol, in his turn, was the originator of kosher Chinese food.  For years, Bernstein-on-Essex was the only restaurant of its kind anywhere. It attracted observant Jews from all over the globe. Like our grandfather Schmulka, our oldest uncle became a man of note, an innovator, in the small circle of Jewish observance and then, later, in the somewhat wider circle of those who look with longing toward the Lower East Side as the Plymouth Rock of American Jewish life. Despite the ups and downs of Lower East Side economics, the restaurant continued to prosper until my uncle died in 1992.

Recent Stories

65-Year-Old Man Jumps to His Death from 6th Floor of Seward Park Co-op

A 65-year-old resident of the Seward Park Co-op reportedly leaped to his death early Tuesday morning. According to the police report, the man jumped from the window of his sixth-floor apartment at building 4, west of Clinton. Officers from the 7th Precinct responded at 7:47am, and found him unconscious at the scene. Further investigation into the […]

Open Call for Muralists to Decorate First Street Green Art Park

Centre-fuge, whose popular art trailer was deposed last summer after seven years, is seeking muralists to paint part of the First Street Green Art Park. The group put out the official request for proposals yesterday morning. There are seven fence-canvases available for the taking. Artwork is curated on a rotating basis, so this next batch […]

Mulberry Market Signage Goes up in Little Italy

Months delayed, the forthcoming Mulberry Market finally has something to show for itself. Store signage was installed yesterday above the entrance to the highly-anticipated supermarket (stylized as MulberryMARKET). The new marketplace is apparently a “family business” that is years in the making. It replaces the decades-old MET Food, which was unable to negotiate favorable lease […]

DOT Announces More ‘Asphalt Art’ for Chinatown Seasonal Streets

For the second year running, Doyers Street is the recipient of the alliterative Asphalt Art. The Department of Transportation’s Temporary Art Program (DOT Art) is again joining forces with the Chinatown Partnership to paint the former “Bloody Angle.” Hangzhou artist Chen Dongfan was the first to paint the area last July, imparting a 4,851 square-foot mural […]

Cactus Store Returns Saturday for Third Season on Essex Street

Unless (or until) development takes hold at 5 Essex Street, the annual cactus retail setup will continue. For the third year running, the Los Angeles-based Cactus Store is set to return this season. Ownership confirmed the plans, and relayed an opening date of this Saturday (May 25). All the infrastructure is still in place, including […]