Eric Finkelstein, 41, is the co-owner, along with his partner, Matt Ross, of the hip local sandwich chain Court Street Grocers, as well as the HiHi Room, a “neighborhood restaurant” in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Last fall, the duo was tapped to revitalize an iconic, old-school luncheonette across from the Flatiron Building, which first opened in 1928 and had been known for decades as Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop. Now dubbed S&P Lunch — the name, Finkelstein says, honors the restaurant’s original owners, Charles Schwadron and Rubin Pulver — the eatery retains its old-school vibe, and the menu is packed with Jewish staples like pastrami, matzah brei and chopped liver, plus a killer egg cream to wash it all down. “This is the kind of food I grew up around and with,” says Finkelstein, who grew up in a Jewish family in Hollis Hills, Queens and now lives in Jackson Heights. In just a few short months since its opening, S&P has become a must-visit dining destination, nabbing a spot on the New York Times’ list of the 100 best restaurants in the city.
For the full list of this year’s 36 to Watch — which honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community — click here.
Who is your New York Jewish hero?
Don Rickles/Carl Sagan
How does your Jewish identity or experience influence your work?
So much of what I do is a result of my experiences as a child, chiefly with my grandparents.
Was there a formative Jewish experience that influenced your life path?
Going to kosher markets/butchers in Queens/Long Island as a kid, with my mother, before Shabbat
What is your favorite place to eat Jewish food in New York?
Russ and Daughters/Liebmans Deli
What is your favorite book about New York?
“A Walker in The City” by Alfred Kazin
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In one sentence, what was your best experience as a Jewish New Yorker?
Honestly, when we were entrusted to preserve the former Eisenberg’s space
What are three spots in NYC that all Jewish New Yorkers should visit?
North Shore Towers in Little Neck, Queens; Taste of Samarkand in Rego Park, Queens; the Jewish Museum.
How can people follow you online?
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