Ben’s In the News
3-1/2 out of 4 stars
First impression: One visit here and you'll understand why David Sax, author of "Save the Deli" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24), includes Ben's among his three favorite South Florida spots. READ MORE...
On Sunday, November 8th, the Mary Brennan INN Soup Kitchen in Hempstead, LI, opened its doors for their annual Day of Thanks & Giving Luncheon Event. The luncheon was catered by Ben’s Kosher Deli with a special tour of their facility.
This year, The INN honored Dave Golbert, Volunteer and Community Advocate, along with Carol Hodkin of Geico Insurance Company. Proceeds from the event go directly towards preparing the Mary Brennan INN for the Thanksgiving Holiday.
For more information about The INN, please contact: Nora Bealey at (516) 486-8506 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronnie Dragoon, owner of Ben’s, and his wife Cindy, along with Ben’s Catering Director, Todd Silverstein, serve the attendees.
For those of you who have been living under a rock the last several years, my friend David Sax has been working diligently on his book Save the Deli, a chronicle of his travels throughout the United States and Canada in his efforts to seek out what remains of our dying Jewish Deli culture. READ MORE
When you think of Hebrew National, don't just think hot dogs. The wide array of Hebrew National fresh meats take center plate at some of the country's most successful restaurants. Ask owner and founder of Ben's Kosher Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers, Ronnie Dragoon... read more
Stephanie Schandler, Long Island Grocery Examiner, dishes on her holiday favorites with some tips from Ben's!
A kosher deli in Brooklyn known for its homestyle cooking is gearing up for Rosh Hashanah with a special deal that is sure to impress. NY1's Michelle Park filed the following report. Click here to view the NY1 Ben's Rosh Hashanah Catering video.
Your foremothers may have slaved over a hot stove to put chicken soup on the shabbes table every Friday night, but all you gotta do is answer your doorbell.
Ben's Kosher Deli is now offering free delivery service... READ MORE
IN THE SEATS Three generations of women in a rear booth: Sarah Kaye, 90, who grew up the youngest of seven children in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and raised her own three in a Bayside co-op; her daughter, Carol Flaumenbaum, 63; and Ms. Flaumenbaum's two daughters, who both married Irishmen and were glad to take their names. "Ugh, did I get tortured in school," recalled one, Lori Donahue, 36. "They called me Waldbaum's, you name it."
ON THE PLATES Four lunch specials ($9.99 including soup, pickles, coleslaw and coffee): stuffed cabbage for Mrs. Kaye, two sliced turkey platters and one hot open turkey sandwich without bread. "I just didn't feel like bread," Ms. Donahue explained. The group made easy work of the pickles and slaw and finished with tea. There was plenty of meat left for doggie bags.
WHY THEY CAME Ms. Donahue, a lifelong Long Islander, was scheduled to move to Port St. Lucie, Fla. Her husband, a police detective who is retiring, wants to see the Mets in spring training there; she would like to adopt a child. The cars and the moving van were packed, and Ms. Donahue was sad and anxious.
WHAT THEY TALKED ABOUT "You see how puffy my eyes are?" Ms. Donahue said. "That's from crying and not sleeping." Her sister, Robyn Casey, 40, tried to cheer her up: "They say that in Florida, happy hour starts at 4:30."
Their wise, even-keeled grandmother piped up. "Listen, it's an adjustment — anytime you move, it's an adjustment," she said. "When I moved to Bayside, it was an adjustment." When the check came, Mrs. Kay took it and adjusted her credit card into the portfolio.
ALL TOGETHER NOW From left: Robyn Casey, Sarah Kaye, Lori Donahue and Carol Flaumenbaum.
Noel Weinstock says for a psychological pick-me-up, he heads to his neighborhood, New York-style deli... where enjoying a good pastrami and rye is always kosher. It's a great blend of modern chic decor with traditional Yiddish sensibilities. It's in Boca Raton and it's called Ben's of Boca Raton.
From Baldwin, L.I. to Boca Raton, FL, people craving New York-style kosher delicatessen have been flocking to Ben's Deli. Recently however, Bayside latke-lovers learned that the Ben's in Bay Terrace might be leaving.
It seems that Ben's and Cord Meyer Development LLC, the owner of the Bay Terrace shopping center, were not on the same page in negotiating a new lease.
"I went to them a year-and-a-half before my lease expired to talk about a new one," said Ronnie Dragoon, co-founder of the chain of seven delis in New York and Florida. "They said 'we don't do that' and said we'd talk six months before (the expiration date)."
What happened next depends on who's telling you.
According to Dragoon, the landlord came back with an offer that nearly doubled the yearly rent and charges, to well over $600,000 a year. "I'd lose money the first year," he said. "I made a counter-offer and they never got back to me," the deli-man continued.
"About a month ago somebody from Hebrew National called me and said, 'How do you like what the landlord did to you?'" Dragoon recalled. "That's how I found out they had rented to a new tenant – I felt like I got punched in the stomach."
The future occupant of the location, on the main level of the complex, is Panera Bread, a Missouri-based public corporation with almost 1,200 stores in 40 states. They have 10 corporate or franchise locations in the city and on Long Island, with one that opened in Long Island City last October.
Cord Meyer remembers the negotiations differently, saying in a statement that they, "contacted Ben's Deli well in advance of the lease expiration, and had begun talks on a renewal lease for the existing store premises."
The statement continues, "There were many components that were involved; however, the major factor that led Cord Meyer to its decision had to do more with the length of time that Ben's wanted for its lease renewal based on Ben's concerns regarding a changing demographic in the surrounding community."
Dragoon called the statement "not entirely accurate." He admitted that rather than another 15-year lease, he asked for 10 years "with two five-year renewal options." He said that he's been negotiating similar terms when leases at his other locations come up for renewal.
"Deli isn't a very high-markup business,so I want more flexibility," he said adding, "You can't deny the demographics are changing – maybe for the better."
Mary Hughes, a spokesperson for Cord Meyer recalled, "they wanted a short-term lease," citing five years with options, rather than 10. "That was too much uncertainty for us." She pointed out that Dragoon's associate was their contact, though he was "definitely involved."
Uncertainty barely describes how the employees at Ben's are feeling.
Assistant Manager Helen Devine of Astoria is "one of the originals." She said the customers and staff are "like an extended family."
"Customers have parties here after a wedding or a bris. They order for holidays. At the end, when we don't see their names on an order, we know something happened," she recounted, her voice trailing off.
Store manger Oscar Molina started as a busboy over 10 years ago. He put up a sign asking customers to go to bat for Ben's. When they started calling his boss, the sign was changed, giving them Cord Meyer's phone number.
Hughes and Dragoon agree that they are trying to work something out – a new location on the upper level by the movie theater. The rent would be comparable to what Ben's pays now, but for 20 percent less space. Hurt feelings aside, both say the negotiations are "amicable."