A piece today in the New York Times tells of the sad fight that is going on over the rights to the name of Guss’ pickles, the fabled pickle shop in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
“The Great Lower East Side Pickle War”
“Even as the beloved, traditional Jewish food establishments of the Lower East Side seem to be locked into an irrecoverable downward spiral ó the death of Gertelís bakery being the most recent example ó a war has been raging over who is the legitimate heir to the Gussís pickle empire that once ruled over Essex Street.”
When I was in New York researching the book this past November, I spent a few hours with Pat Fairhurst at Guss’s on Orchard, and also met Mr. Stephen Leibowitz at the Kosherfest convention the same week. This is very much a story of David vs. Goliath, with Mrs. Fairhurst simply trying to sell pickles out of one of the last Jewish food businesses in the neighborhood, while United Pickle is attempting to cash in on the Guss’s name and history. In our conversation, Leibowitz (who sports a gold pickle pin), told me that he was looking forward to driving Mrs. Fairhurst out of business. “I can’t wait to be there when they tear that sign down!” he said with glee.
Deli mavens: pickles are an essential component of our experience. Guss’s is a true New York institution, a mother and son operation where you can get a full sour with bits of garlic right from a barrel on the sidewalk. To anyone walking around the rapidly changing Lower East Side, it is a stubbornly delicious and salty reminder of what the area once was. Without your support, Guss’s could soon go the way of Gertel’s bakery and the countless other Jewish food shops that once graced the area.
Most importantly, call Pat Fairhurst and express your support, and if you live in New York, head on down and buy some pickles asap!
Guss’s World Famous Pickles
86-87 Orchard St
New York, NY