Edible Memories: R. Gross, a Garment Center Mainstay

High-end glatt kosher, doling out latkes and kreplach to the Seventh Avenue rag trade

By Stacia Friedman

 

R. Gross Dairy Restaurant

 

Edible Memories: Bygone Restaurants We Loved

April 3, 2024

When I was a fashion designer in the Garment Center in the early 1980s, the window display at R. Gross, a Jewish dairy restaurant and bakery at 1372 Broadway, always stopped me in my tracks. It was filled with freshly baked challah, poppyseed rolls, and Danish pastry.

Unlike Dubrow’s Cafeteria on Seventh Avenue, R. Gross, founded in 1922, did not cater to Yiddish-speaking, yarmulke-wearing cutters. R. Gross was high-class, with starched tablecloths, uniformed waiters, and a pricey menu for garmentos with American Express cards and second wives.

At lunchtime, it was as crowded and noisy as one of those bar mitzvah receptions with waiters dancing from table to table. Seating was family-style, meaning I had to wedge myself, elbow to elbow, against a table of strangers. Mostly men. This wasn’t a place for Ladies Who Lunch. On every table was a basket overflowing with fragrant, golden rolls. Above my head, a server juggled a huge tray and shouted, “Nervous waiter! Hot soup!”

My fondest R. Gross memory was of purchasing a dozen prune Danish before a business trip to Hong Kong. I wrapped each flaky pastry in aluminum foil and nestled them in a shoebox. Although great deals on ivory and jade were to be had in Hong Kong, you could die for want of a Danish there. I was half a world away from home, yet I could taste it.

Prune Danish

Stacia Friedman is an award-winning freelance journalist who writes for regional and national publications.

Editor’s Note: While other midtown Manhattan kosher restaurants have disappeared without a trace, this one segued into something new. In 1985, it changed its name to Mr. Broadway and introduced Mediterranean glatt kosher dishes. Chinese fare was added, as well, and in the year 2000, Mr. Broadway became the first midtown kosher restaurant to offer sushi. In 2011, the dining room was rebuilt, an 18-seat beer-and-wine bar added, and the kitchen was expanded. Now the menu also features such ethnically diverse and fusion items as pastrami pizzettes, Tex-Mex empanadas, and brisket tacos—reflecting changing Garment Center tastes. And while Mr. Broadway recently relocated to 209 West 38th Street, merging with Ben’s Kosher Deli (another Garment Center old-timer), it continues producing reliable matzo ball soup, homemade chopped liver, and the kreplach that R. Gross was famous for.

Share Button

Basilica Farm & Flea

Eight Surefire Strategies for Giving Really Good, Inspired Gifts

A Curtain of Coupons: Is it Art, Decor, or Just Plain Eccentricity?

Le Cafe Arnold

Edible Memories: At Le Café Arnold, Chicken Flambé and V8 juice

R. Gross Restaurant

Edible Memories: R. Gross, a Garment Center Mainstay

Ella Fitzgerald by Wiliam P. Gottlieb

I’ll Never Forget … Ella Fitzgerald’s Final Concert at Carnegie Hall, 1991

Cour des Vosges

Rooms With a View in France: Aligned by the Stars

Edward Elgar

I’ll Never Forget … Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations

George Gelles and Seiji Ozawa

I’ll Never Forget … My Friendship with Seiji Ozawa

Luchow's

Edible Memories: Lunch at Lüchow’s with Lauritz Melchior

The Grateful Dead

I’ll Never Forget … The Grateful Dead and Summer of Love