Menu circa 1943
|Previous owner(s)||Arnold Reuben
Harry L. Gilman
|Street address||244 Madison Avenue|
|City||New York City|
Arnold Reuben, a Jewish-German immigrant, first opened the restaurant in 1908 at 802 Park Avenue. In 1916, it moved to Broadway and 73rd Street, and two years later it moved again, this time to 622 Madison Avenue. Three decades after it first opened its doors, Reuben's Restaurant and Delicatessen had a formal opening at 6 East 58th Street with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in attendance. It stayed at this location for three more decades until it was sold in the mid-1960s, afterwards moving to a location at 38th Street and Madison Avenue.
Arnold Reuben was interviewed about his restaurant by the Federal Writers' Project in 1938. Marian Burros remembered the restaurant's appearance in a January 11, 1986, New York Times column: "Italian marble, gold-leaf ceiling, lots of walnut paneling and dark red leather seats—to a small-town girl it was the quintessential New York restaurant." The restaurant's menu included sandwiches named for celebrities; Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra both had sandwiches named for them.
Reuben's restaurant is one of several restaurants and chefs that claim to have originated the Reuben sandwich. According to its version, in 1914 an actress filming with Charlie Chaplin requested the combination. There is disagreement whether that recipe was the same as what became to be known as the Reuben sandwich. Another version is that the sandwich was named after Arnold Reuben for his charitable work and donations, though the actual sandwich was created by William Hamerly.
The restaurant also played a small part in the 1919 Black Sox scandal in which the Chicago White Sox conspired to "throw" the World Series. Arnold Rothstein and Abe "The Little Champ" Attell met together in a private room inside Reuben's in an initial attempt by Attell to sell the idea to Rothstein, the most powerful sports gambler of the period.
Arnold Reuben's son, Arnold Reuben Jr., worked in the restaurant with his father until it closed in the mid-1960s when Reuben sold the restaurant to Harry L. Gilman. Arnold Reuben retired to Palm Beach, where he died on December 31, 1970, at the age of 87.
The deli at 244 Madison Avenue remained until late 2001 when the restaurant was forced to close owing to health code infractions.