It seemed like forever. And it was.
Closed for three months, after 30 years at the same location, Sable’s the Upper Eeast Side’s go-to appetizing store, was forced out of its storefront to make way for the assemblage of buildings and businesses along 2nd Ave between 77th and 78th streets where a behemoth high rise or high rises will be rising.
Undaunted, Sable’s, the UES’s answer to Russ and Daughters, Barney Greengrass and Zabar’s, relocated to the northwest corner of 76th St. and 3rd Ave. where East Siders and mavens of first-class appetizing can go for their Hamptons deliveries of sturgeon, smoked salmon, gravlax, herrings, bagels, sometimes bialys and caviar.
It all started 30 years ago when Hong Kong born Danny Sze (pronounced zee as in Zabar’s) left Zabar’s after running its counter operation and gaining the know-how and expertise to start his own appetizing business. With brothers Henry and Kenny, they became a smaller scale Zabar’s, and over the years gained a reputation for finely sliced lox (unless you want it a little thicker) and for high quality appetizing.
From the outside, you can’t miss the neon Sable’s sign alongside the Caviar and Salmon signs. The original Sable’s on 2nd Ave was a relic of another time. An aisle fit for one customer at a time, you had to walk up and down the store-length counter to see the array of herrings, lobster and whitefish salads. And maybe get a taste.
At the recently opened location, the appetizing-deprived wait patiently to get inside where the counter crew is busy slicing and selling. Other delicatessens have nothing on Sable’s. In fact, Zabar’s can maybe learn a thing or two from Sable’s. While the West Side Zabar’s has expanded in size exponentially over the years, they’ve sacrificed the personal touch for grab-and-go appetizing. No more the days when you’d go to Zabar’s, get a ticket, wait your turn and be told by the counter server what and how much you should be buying.
Today, you go to Sable’s for the sass, the memories, and, oh, such good salmon, sable, and all the rest. And, yes, the familiar Polaroid photos still span Sable’s walls and are prominently displayed. Look for Mayor Koch and Rodney Dangerfield. You may or may not find Mayor Mike Bloomberg, but Sable’s provided the caviar for his older daughter’s wedding.
I’m thrilled Sable’s back. Three months without it seemed like a lifetime. Here’s to lox, L’chaim and a place to buy the best appetizing for at least another 30 years.