Street renamed ‘Hobby’s Plaza’ in honor of famed Newark deli

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on December 09, 2014

Members of the Brummer family at the street sign ceremony at Hobby's in Newark.

 

NEWARK — Patrons wanting to know anything about the infamous Hobby’s Delicatessen need just read the signs.

How long has it been open on the Newark corner? The back of employees’ shirts read the answer: “Established before you were born.”

What does it serve? Employee aprons say: “From Bris to Shiva, and all the bologna in between.”

And now, “where is it?” can be answered by just looking at the street sign.

City officials held a ceremony at the eatery this afternoon unveiling a sign that will rename the corner of Branford Place and Halsey Street, “Hobby’s Plaza.” The restaurant, which has been owned by the Brummer family since 1962, has been at that corner for about 100 years.

“It is a great day for the City of Newark, the County of Essex, and the state of New Jersey, to be able to celebrate an institution that represents family, that represents community, and that represents education, all while giving us great chicken soup,” Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins said before presenting a ceremonial street sign to the Brummer family.

“I wish we had more families like this in the City of Newark,” South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James said of husband and wife Sam and Rona Brummer, who took over the business in 1962, and their two sons, Marc and Michael, who run it today.

“I look forward to this business being open at least another 100 years.”

Sam Brummer, a Polish immigrant who came to America to escape the rise of Hitler, is a World War II veteran. Rona, a second generation Russian American, was born and raised in the city.

“I went through thick and thin with Newark, but I never left it,” Sam said in between greeting friends and family members in from across the country at the ceremony today.

“It is a great city.”

In addition to being known as a meeting spot for prominent politicians, and a luncheon location for celebrities, residents, and visitors alike, Hobby’s also has a reputation for fostering a community feel in Newark. Jenkins shared a story during the ceremony of a signal that had been used by the wait staff before the Brummers bought the business. The signal denoted that a black customer had placed an order.

He abolished the signal, and created a culture of acceptance inside the establishment, she said.

“You gave dignity to all those who walked through those doors,” she said to Sam during the ceremony.

“We had a great rapport with everyone – black, white, it didn’t matter,” he said.

The Brummer family called the street renaming recognition from the city “priceless.”

“Newark has always been a part of us,” Marc Brummer said. “Newark and Branford Place really feel like our home.” During remarks he made at the ceremony, Marc recalled one of the tough times the restaurant experienced, after it burned down in 1992. Despite many offers to sell the business or relocate it, the family decided to stay.

“We believed in Newark and its people,” he said. “If you look around here today, I think it’s pretty clear that the Brummers made the right decision.”

In his 52 years at that corner, Sam Brummer said he and his eatery have built a relationship with the community.

“People have to like you, and people have to like your food,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about good food.”

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