Posts Tagged ‘Second Avenue Deli’

A 1996 East Village murder remains unsolved

April 3, 2013

Abe Lebewohl had a routine, his employees later told police.

Every morning around nine, the 64-year-old owner of the Second Avenue Deli would take the previous day’s earnings from the 10th Street restaurant, then drive to a bank on Fourth Street and make a deposit.

Secondavenuedeli

On March 4, 1996, he got to the bank, but never made it inside. According to a 2010 New York Post story, “at least two thugs approached him as he sat in his van and pumped three bullets into him.

“The monsters dragged Lebewohl into the back of van and drove one block before fleeing the vehicle with his black shoulder bag that held the $8,000 deposit and his wallet containing another $2,000.” Lebewohl lay mortally wounded.

AbelebewohlparkThe cold-blooded killing was all the more stunning because Lebewohl was so well-liked and embraced by the community.

Born in the Ukraine, he came to New York with his family in 1950 after years in a refugee camp in Italy.

He worked as a waiter at a coffee shop on Second Avenue and 10th Street, then bought the property, turning it into a Jewish culinary institution that served locals and celebrities.

His generosity was legendary. “[Sic] he often provided free food to homeless people, striking workers, and neighborhood events,” states the web page for Abe Lebewohl Park, a small space across Second Avenue dedicated in his honor (above).

Secondavenuedeli2At first, cops had a solid clue. Soon after the slaying, they found the murder weapon, a handgun, in Central Park.

But after chasing false leads and circulating thousands of witness sketches of the suspects, the case went cold.

Seventeen years later—after the Second Avenue Deli moved to midtown and the Upper East Side and the old location has become another bank branch—the men behind the murder remain at large.

[Top photo: 2ndavedeli.com; middle: NYC Parks Department; bottom: Forbes.com]

The East Village’s Yiddish Hall of Fame

September 25, 2010

So what’s a Hollywood Walk of Fame–style memorial to Yiddish theater stars of the 19th and early 20th centuries doing in front of a Chase bank branch on Second Avenue and 10th Street?

It was created by the Second Avenue Deli in 1984, which occupied this site for decades until 2006. 

About 30 plaques are embedded in the sidewalk, each bearing the name (or in some cases two names) of some of the biggest celebrities who graced the theaters and vaudeville houses that lined Second Avenue.

There’s a plaque for Abraham Goldfaden (left), billed as the founder of Yiddish theater and the “Yiddish Shakespeare,” according to his 1908 obituary in The New York Times.

Fyvush Finkel, Bruce Adler, and Molly Picon, above right, also have stars. Many of the others, unfortunately, are too worn down to read.