NEW YORK - On the Lower East Side, the name Yonah Schimmel calls to mind one thing: the knish.
"A knish is potato, or something mixed with potato, with onions and spices, like salt and pepper, wrapped in a very, very thin dough, round and baked," co-owner Ellen Anistratov said. "The taste is very soothing. It's very warm. You just want more of that."
At Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery on Houston Street, the soft knishes are handmade in the basement kitchen and hoisted upstairs to the storefront on an original dumbwaiter.
The business first got its start as a pushcart at the turn of the 20th century. Romanian Jewish immigrant Yonah Schimmel made his living on New York sidewalks selling knishes from his family recipe.
He found a brick-and-mortar location across the street before settling at the shop's current location in 1910.
The business has since been passed down through generations of the founder's direct and indirect relatives. Today, Ellen runs it alongside her sister.
"When I meet a person who's 90 years old, and they come to the store, and they tell their grandkids, 'I came here when I was five,' and they're explaining what's a knish, that's a big deal for me," she said.
The menu has expanded beyond the original potato knish to include savory and sweet fillings from spinach to cherry-cheese.
In New York's knish landscape, Ellen doesn't see much competition.
"If you haven't tried a Yonah Schimmel knish, you've really never had a knish," she said.
Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery
137 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
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