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Current Issue : 2009 Spring

Stanley Zabar '56 / Zabar's

The Mayor of the Upper West Side

But Cohen is not alone in his praise of Brooklyn Law. The school also made a significant impact on Stanley Zabar, another child of immigrant parents (coincidentally also from Ukraine) who spent most of his lifetime, when he wasn't practicing law, working to help grow his parents' little smoked fish business into one of the most beloved New York shopping experiences.

The Upper West Side wonderland, emblazoned with the tag line "New York is Zabar's and Zabar's is New York," has been an institution since 1934, when Louis and Lillian Zabar started the business by opening an appetizing counter in Daitch Market, a grocery store. Thanks to the high quality and fair prices of their handpicked smoked fish and house-roasted coffee in particular, the business thrived. Soon, Louis and Lillian took over the Daitch Market and began to expand as more real estate opened up. But when Louis died in 1950, the responsibility of carrying on the Zabar's name fell to his sons, Stanley, then 17 and in his second year at Wharton, and Saul, 21.

Despite his obligations to his family's business, Stanley's dream was to become a CPA and an attorney. But there was one problem: finding a law school that would allow him to work at the same time. Columbia wanted him, but would not permit him to split his time with Zabar's. He enrolled in Brooklyn Law. "I am very appreciative of Brooklyn," explains Zabar. "It had a program in which you finished at 12:30 p.m. two days and at 1:30 p.m. on three days, and then I could still work at Zabar's until 9:00 p.m. and on the weekends too. I didn't realize you weren't supposed to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," he jokes, but then he is serious again. "The school allowed me to do both, and it gave me a very strong background in the law. The education was superb."

After completing law school, Zabar went to work for the firm Wachtel and Michaelson, which later merged and became Rubin, Baum, Levin, Wachtel and Friedman, where he became a partner. But all the while, he always kept one foot in the family business. It was a few years later, while working as counsel for The McCory Corporation, that he realized it was time to make Zabar's his full-time occupation. "All of my clients were more interested in the fact that I was a Zabar," he recalls. "When we got finished with a deal they would shake my hand and it was only when they realized who I was that they got excited. There was a real excitement in food."

“I am very appreciative of Brooklyn Law School. It allowed me to work and go to school at the same time, and it gave me a very strong background in the law. The education was superb.”
— Stanley Zabar