Shopsin's first iteration was as a neighborhood grocery at the corner of Bedford and Morton streets in The Village. It, the stock and good will, but not the building, was purchased by Kenny Shopsin for $25,000 in 1973. He was undergoing intensive Freudian psychoanalysis at the time and lived in the neighborhood. His father put up the money. The previous owner had prepared and sold roast beef, a practice Shopsin continued.
Shopsins was known for both its extensive (900-item) menu of unusual dishes concocted by chef/owner Kenny Shopsin, including items such as "Slutty Cakes", pancakes with peanut butter in the middle, and "Blisters on My Sisters", similar to (Huevos rancheros), and for Kenny Shopsin himself, described by Time Out New York as "the foul-mouthed middle-aged chef and owner". Among Kenny Shopsin's quirks are his very specific rules, including a firm rule that the restaurant will not accept parties of more than four people. "Pretending to be a party of three that happened to have come in with a party of two is a very bad idea," wrote restaurant regular Calvin Trillin.
The restaurant and Kenny Shopsin were the subject of articles by New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin and of the documentary film I Like Killing Flies, directed by Matt Mahurin. An effort to re-create Mr. Shopsin's "Slutty Cakes" was described in a January 2009 Slate article.
Kenny Shopsin is the author of a 2008 cookbook Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin.
- Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin (HardcoverISBN 978-0-307-26493-0.) (First ed.). New York: Knopf. 2008. pp. 1, 29–31.
- "Don't Mention It: The hidden life and times of a Greenwich Village restaurant" by Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker, April 15, 2002 "Don't Mention it: The hidden life and times of a Greenwich Village restaurant.," Annals of Gastronomy, article by Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker April 15, 2002
- "The Bubble Gum Store" (The New Yorker, July 21, 1975) and "Don't Mention It" (The New Yorker, April 15, 2002)
- IMDB listing for I like Killing Flies
- "Cooking Their Books" by Lauren Shockey, Slate, January 21, 2009
- Nonfiction Reviews: Week of 7/21/2008, "Publishers Weekly".
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