The Ghost of Ratner’s Appears Briefly

IMG_6702The Lower East Side where Neil and I have lived for the last decade is going through a huge transition.  Right now, on what have been parking lots for the last 40 years, a major new development has started called: Essex Crossing.

Last week I noticed that the mattress store on Delancey had closed and was mid-gut renovation.  When they stripped away all the Mattress signs, there on the building buried for years, was the original Ratner’s sign.

Ratner’s holds a special place in the restaurant history of New York.  It was the dairy version of Katz’s.  Hard to say why one survived and the other didn’t, partly I think Katz’s had (and still has) a better location. Or maybe it’s because Corn Beef is more popular than Blintzes? 😉

The year it closed a friend of mine said we had to go, so we made a date and went for lunch.  I haven’t recollection of the food I just remember this large room filled with chrome and vinyl that looked like it was from a film set.

I hadn’t thought about that lunch in years, then the other day I glimpsed the Ratner’s sign just before it was removed for good.

The Lower East Side has changed so much over the years. I’m excited to see how this current reinvention will turnout, but I’m doubtful that it’ll be populated with family owned restaurants that reflect the people of the neighborhood.  What do you think, am I being unfair?

Looking at this picture below it’s incredible to think that just 2 blocks from our apartment used to ever look like this.  Almost unfathomable to believe it is the same street I walk every day.  Ever since I have known this part of Delancey it’s been filled with 99 cent stores, fast food chains and pawn shop/jewelry stores facing  4 blocks of parking lots. Naked-City-Ratner's

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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2 Responses to The Ghost of Ratner’s Appears Briefly

  1. cbcreates says:

    Love this post. All your excellent links make a fascinating trail of discovery. That the theater next door became Fillmore East where Janis Joplin and The Dead played. I also looked up The Naked City TV series on Youtube and playlisted it. And did you notice that on the left of the street crowd photo there appears to be a mans legs on a stretcher…?

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