The outside of Delmonico's in NYC | LivingIn
NYC Guides

9 Old School NY Businesses That Are Still Thriving

May 14, 2018

In a city as fast-paced as New York, it seems like there’s constant business turnover and growth. Things seem to pop up and disappear, so it’s a wonder that there are institutions that are still standing after generations. But New Yorkers know what they like, and they stick to it. Take a look at some quintessentially New York businesses that are still thriving, even after decades of change.

1. Katz’s Delicatessen

205 East Houston Street   |   Lower East Side, Manhattan

The famed delicatessen has been serving corned beef and other classics since 1888. Originally established as Iceland Brothers on Ludlow Street, it later became Iceland and Katz in 1903, and Katz’s Delicatessen in 1903. The present storefront facade was added in 1946-1949 to a lot on Houston Street. Katz’s became a cornerstone in the neighborhood, a gathering place for immigrants and their families. Today, the iconic deli has expanded to another location in Brooklyn at the Dekalb Market Hall.

Katz’s Delicatessen in New York City | LivingIn

2. C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries

414 6th Ave   |   Greenwich Village, Manhattan

C.O. Bigelow has been established in New York for almost two centuries. Founded in 1838 by Dr. Galen Hunter to provide prescriptions and healing remedies, the shop was purchased and renamed the in 1880 by Clarence Otis Bigelow. The current Greenwich Village location has been the apothecary’s home since 1902, and the shop still sells items formulated decades ago.

3. Moscot NYC

118 Orchard Street  |  Lower East Side, Manhattan

Moscot’s iconic eyewear has been a New York staple since 1915. In 1899, Hyman Moscot entered New York and joined other pushcart vendors on the Lower East Side, selling ready-made eyewear. In 1915, he opened a brick-and-mortar store to support his expanding business. The iconic shop facade, featuring posters, signs, and giant eyes and glasses, is suspected to have influenced the Doctor T. J. Eckleburg billboard in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In 1935, the store was moved to 118 Orchard Street, where it would remain for over 80 years. Today, there are three Moscot locations in New York City, with locations worldwide. Moscot is the 13th oldest eyewear company in the world still operating.

An old image of Moscot's New York storefront | LivingIn

4. The Ear Inn

326 Spring Street  |  Hudson Square, Manhattan

Located in the historic James Brown House, which was built in 1817 for African American revolutionary war hero and George Washington’s aide James Brown, the Ear Inn is one of the oldest drinking establishments in New York City. In the mid-1800s, Thomas Cooke began selling home-brewed beer and corn whiskey to sailors out of the house, and in 1900 it became a restaurant and dining room. During Prohibition, it became a speakeasy, and after Prohibition ended, reopened its doors to the public. The bar was nameless for many years, until it was finally given a name in the 70s, when the new owners covered up the rounded edges of the letter B on the neon sign outside, so that the sign read “EAR” instead of “BAR”. Despite all of its history (the upstairs portion of the townhouse was at different points a boarding house, smuggler’s den, brothel, and doctor’s office), the downstairs area has always remained an area for eating and drinking, and the Federal style townhouse is virtually untouched.

5. Grand Central Oyster Bar

Grand Central Terminal  |   Midtown East, Manhattan

When Grand Central Terminal opened its doors in 1913 on the site of what had been a rundown train depot, so did Grand Central Oyster Bar. For many years, it was a popular spot amongst commuters and long-haul train riders. Since its opening, the restaurant has undergone a number of renovations, but still maintains its hallmark look, including the intricately tiled vaulted ceilings, thanks to landmark status that was awarded in 1980. The classic look transports diners to another era, but the space, while grand, has been updated to be more approachable, making it a spot suitable for all generations.

6. Delmonico’s

56 Beaver Street   |   Financial District, Manhattan

Established in 1837 by the Delmonico brothers, this steakhouse has been a New York classic for almost two hundred years. The restaurant has had many firsts, included the being the first fine dining establishment to be called a “restaurant” in America, the first fine dining restaurant in the city and the first one in America to have tablecloths. The restaurant is also the inventor of a brunch staple: eggs Benedict, as well as lobster Newberg and baked Alaska.

7. Yonah Schimmel Knishery

137 East Houston Street  |  Lower East Side, Manhattan

Yonah Schimmel Knishery has been serving knishes on the Lower East Side since 1890. What began as a pushcart operation expanded into a brick and mortar store, which was later moved to its current location in 1910, on the south side of Houston. Since its beginning, the knishery has been family owned. Although many of the Jewish residents and businesses in the area have since departed, Yonah Schimmel Knishery remains as a fixture of Jewish culture and cuisine.

8. Russ and Daughters 

179 East Houston Street  & 127 Orchard Street |  Lower East Side, Manhattan

Russ and Daughters may be better known these days among the brunching set for being a trendy cafe on the Lower East Side, but has roots that go back over 100 years. In 1907, Joel Russ emigrated from Poland. He began selling herrings out of barrels, before moving onto a pushcart, followed by a horse and wagon. In 1914, he was able to move to a brick and mortar store on Orchard Street (the same street where Russ and Daughters Cafe is today). The store moved to 179 East Houston Street in 1920, where it has remained ever since. Fun facts about Russ and Daughters include that it was designated by the Smithsonian “a part of New York’s cultural heritage” and that it was the first business in the United States to have “and Daughters” in its name.

9. Economy Candy

108 Rivington Street |  Lower East Side, Manhattan

Sweet-toothed New Yorkers head down to the jam-packed Economy Candy where hundreds of candy options line packed shelves and towering walls. In it’s current location since the 1980’s, the business has been sugaring up locals since the 1930s. Originally a shoe and hat repair shop with a simple push cart selling candy outside, the business shifted gears during the Depression when candy sales became more lucrative than shoes. Today the store sells the common candy offerings, but also harder-to-find options including old school treats like BB Bats, Red Vines, and even candy cigarettes.

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