Dubrow's Cafeteria was a chain of cafeteria-style restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Miami Beach. Dubrow's was established in 1929 by an immigrant named Benjamin Dubrow (also known as "Barney" or "Pops", née Mowsoha Bencian Dubrowensky). Dubrow was married to Rose Solowey, from the country now known as Belarus. Benjamin's descendants worked at and managed the various restaurants, including George Dubrow, his son (who died in a car crash in Florida), his grandsons, Irwin Dubrow and Paul Tobin, and his sons-in-law, Irving Kaplan (who married his daughter Sylvia) and Max Tobin (who married to his daughter Minnie.) Max and Minnie had three children: Paul, Sheila, and Anita (Nini), while Irving and Sylvia had three children as well: Beth Wald, Bonnie Lyons, and Laura Levin. Paul Tobin went on to manage Dubrow's for many years, along with Irving Kaplan, until it eventually closed.
The first Dubrow's Cafeteria was established on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. The Manhattan Dubrow's was an important part of New York's Garment district in the early- to mid-twentieth century. It was a hub of activity for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
Many famous politicians used both the Brooklyn and the Manhattan locations as stumping spots for their political campaigns. These included Presidents John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter when they were running for office, Robert Kennedy, and Hugh Carey and W. Averell Harriman, both former governors of New York. According to multiple biographies, the famous baseball player Sandy Koufax announced his decision to sign with the Brooklyn Dodgers in front of Dubrow's Cafeteria on Kings Highway in Brooklyn. The children's author Bruce Coville also wrote about working at Dubrow's for a brief period of time. The Manhattan Dubrow's was the site of the American Playhouse production "The Cafeteria", based on the short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, which was featured on PBS.
The last Dubrow's, located in the Garment District in Manhattan, closed in 1985.
Dubrow's Cafeteria in popular culture
- A photograph by Garry Winogrand entitled "Kennedy-Nixon Presidential Campaign, New York, 1960" features Dubrow's prominently.
- The novel Subway Music by Reynold Joseph Paul Junker features a nostalgic passage about Dubrow's being gone
- The poem "Waitress" by Jason Shinder claims to be set in Dubrow's, though there were no waitresses in Dubrow's.
- The poem "You Could Live If They Let You" by Wallace Markfield features the lines "As I might speak of e. e. cummings enormous room or Swann's Madeline you speak of Dubrow's Cafeteria and Mallomars."
- Ivan Koota did several paintings of Dubrow's in his collection of works depicting his native Brooklyn.
- Dennis Ziemienski has a painting of Dubrow's Cafeteria.
- Parts of the 1979 Film "Boardwalk" were filmed on location in the Dubrow's Cafeteria pictured above in this article shortly after it closed.
- Compilation of Dubrow's stories, memories, photographs, and paintings assembled by Benjamin Dubrow's great granddaughter, Eve Lyons