Yonah Schimmel gets credit for inventing the humble knish in 1910 at his still-thriving knishery on East Houston Street.
But knish fiends all over New York still lament the loss of Mrs. Stahl’s Knishes, a dingy place tucked under the elevated train at Brighton Beach Avenue.
The shop served up hand-made cushions of potato, kasha, and cabbage inside flaky baked dough. They were truly legendary.
Photo at right from Jack Szwergold’s flickr page.
The real Mrs. Stahl was a local lady who sold her home-baked knishes up and down the beach in the 1930s.
In 1935 she was persuaded to open a store, which thrived through the 1980s; there was even a short-lived Upper West Side branch. But Brighton Beach changed, and cravings for cheap Jewish soul food plummeted. By 2005, it was gone.
“The first thing that hits you as you walk in—besides the crisp sea breeze coming from the ocean a block away—is the warm, oniony smell of potato filling….” stated Brooklyn Bridge magazine in a 1997 article (photo: Brooklyn Bridge)
“In small back rooms, huge bowls of thick, just-boiled potato filling cool down and trays of perfectly shaped, doughy knishes wait to be put in giant ovens. Their destinations are varied. Thousands are sold from the store each week, and thousands more are shipped to gourmet delicatessens across the country.”