The Jew And The Carrot

The Next Generation of Ratner's Comes to Brooklyn

By Lucy Cohen Blatter

  • Print
  • Share Share
Forward Archives
Old School: Ratners dairy restaurant was a staple of the New York Jewish scene for nearly 100 years.

When he opens Peck’s Specialty Foods in Brooklyn this fall, Theo Peck will be continuing a family tradition that started over 100 years ago.

Peck’s great grandfather was the founder of Ratner’s, the Lower East Side dairy restaurant (and kosher institution), which opened in 1905 and closed its doors in 2004.

“I grew up at Ratner’s,” says Peck. “I distinctly remember going there after school on Fridays, and eating pierogies and potato pancakes in the bar room off the side of the restaurant. My relatives — who all worked there — would sit around drinking whiskey, smoking cigarettes and talking about their friends and family members’ upcoming surgeries.”

In 1996, Peck returned to the family business, opening The Lansky Lounge, a speakeasy-style bar attached to Ratner’s. (“We were the only nightclub in New York City that was closed on Friday nights,” he says.)

After leaving the lounge, Peck went to culinary school. He planned to open his own restaurant in 2008, but his funds were lost in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme.

Now, he’s getting back into the game with Peck’s Specialty Foods in Clinton Hill, the Brooklyn neighborhood in which he lives.

The 850-square-foot shop, set to open in mid-September, will feature a deli counter and an outdoor space (open seasonally) complete with picnic tables. The store will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take-away offerings will include homemade baked goods, sandwiches (such as housemade gravlax and tongue), soups, rotisserie chicken and Peck’s specialty sausages, pates and terrines.

Though Ratner’s was kosher during its later years, Peck’s will not be. “There will definitely be treyf,” he says, pointing to pork sausages and pates in particular. Instead of chopped liver, he’ll serve chicken liver terrine.

But Peck will try and emulate some of the classic, Ashkenazi-style dishes for which Ratner’s was known. “I’m going to have homemade matzo ball soup and borscht every day. I’ll also play around with kasha varnishkes, but with a gravy that’s a lot lighter and more mushroom-y,” he says.

Devotees of Ratner’s will remember their famous onion roll bread basket. “I remember quite a few older women who’d stuff those rolls into their purses as soon as the waiter walked away,” Peck says. Unfortunately, he won’t have the kitchen capability to make bread the same way they did at Ratner’s.

But for Peck, inspiration comes more from the sense of community that thrived at Ratner’s, rather than the food. “I’m not going to try and do Ratner’s. But I am looking to make a place that brings people together the way Ratner’s did,” he says.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: pecks specialty foods, matzo ball soup, borscht, Ratners

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.