Several months after returning to Zabar’s – following a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic – 91 year old lox slicer Len Berk has written a column about his newly acquired fame for The Forward, where he is a “lox columnist.”
Berk’s name began to circulate after the New York Post announced his return in April of this year.
In May, he was honored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (soon to be District 6 Councilmember) and Lieutenant Governor (soon to be actual governor) Kathy Hochul, who visited the iconic store to recognize his 26 years of service.
For 26 years, Len Berk has been @ZabarsIsNY’s beloved lox slicer— it was wonderful to honor him together with @LtGovHochulNY for his service to the UWS and NYC!
Wonderful reminder that small businesses such as this are the bedrock of our communities, & make our city stronger! pic.twitter.com/NRJIPuLHR2
— Gale A. Brewer (@galeabrewer) May 10, 2021
The long-time lox man – whose customers have included Upper West Side celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Glenn Close, Lauren Bacall and Jerry Stiller – would soon make headlines in tons of major publications and popular social media accounts.
In Berk’s August 18 write-up, he recounts wondering why people would be so interested in him. “Why would people watch it? Why would they comment on it?” he wonders, referencing his interview with Instagram star @Newyorknico, which he adds received “more than 50,000 hits and comments galore,” to his disbelief.
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“Apparently, there appears to be some interest out there in the story of a 91 year old returning to work,” Berk writes.
He says his best interview was with CBS, since it was his fourth, and he had gotten some confidence. “It’s a very strange place to be, let me tell you” Berk said in reference to his age and employment status. “Things change. And they don’t get better,” he added with a smirk. “But I’m still plugging away.”
Beyond the fame, Berk writes about the people who have reached out to him on a more personal level: a California lawyer whose son’s bar-mitzvah speech referenced him; a man who offered him his grandfather’s old lox-slicing knife; and mailed requests for his autograph.
I don’t know what the big fuss is over this guy. There was a guy there, a Holocaust survivor, named Sam that worked there as a lox slicer for over 40 years! He died in the 1990’s I believe. He puts Berk to shame!
Richard G. Klein