Every now and then, I like to have lunch at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, where the world’s most delicious tuna-salad sandwich can be found. Eisenberg’s has been around since 1929 and is no longer owned by the Eisenberg family. Remarkably, though the luncheonette has changed hands 4 or 5 times, it has never been tampered with—a miracle in this city of constant renovation. The current owner, Josh Konecky, is a self-proclaimed preservationist. This city needs more of those.
One little detail I love about the place is that they use Pechter’s bread, itself an anachronism of sorts, packaged not in plastic bags, but waxy paper sleeves. The bakery opened in 1929, the same year that Eisenberg’s debuted, and I’m willing to bet the two of them have been making beautiful sandwiches together since the beginning.
On my most recent trip to Eisenberg’s, I took a seat at the vintage counter and ordered the tuna on rye with a bag of chips and a chocolate egg cream. A guy named Pete D. asked me to sign a petition that he hopes will help him win an upcoming court case. The petition states that he is a respected, 30-year patron of the luncheonette, and a man of good character. I signed the paper and Pete told me the torturous tale of his impending eviction, a story that involves drug busts, illegal searches, back-room deals, and harassment from landlords. It’s a story that is becoming too common in the current New York age. If you’d like to support Pete, you can find him at the counter most days.
One of the countermen got in on our conversation. “You should settle,” he told Pete as he buttered slices of Pechter’s rye, “Get out while the getting’s good. You’re lucky the landlord’s name doesn’t end in a vowel, if you know what I mean. He could put a bullet in your head. How long do you want to fight this thing? And what if you win? You could end up in a box. People have done worse for real estate in this town.”
This is true. Thankfully, Eisenberg’s landlord seems like a real mensch—he dines at the counter himself and has given the current owner a good, long lease, securing those delicious tuna sandwiches into the 2020’s.
P.S. Pechter’s even turns up as an corny old joke in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor: