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!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • 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.