Thursday, January 21, 2021

Katz's That's All!


Katz's That's All!
Oil on panel
8x8 inches
The first painting of 2021. I have wanted to do a painting of Katz's on Houston St., corner of Ludlow for many years and have finally gotten around to fulfilling this goal. I have so many memories of going there as a kid with my family on a Sunday for lunch. After a hearty meal we'd go shopping on Orchard Street, when the clothing was hung outdoors and the owner's stood outside, inviting you in to purchase and haggle over price.
One memory that comes to mind is when I had an exhibit at the NoHo Gallery in the 1980's when the gallery was located then on Mercer Street in SoHo. I was sitting the show on a Sunday afternoon and it could be quiet when there were no people in the gallery. My Dad came to visit and keep me company and he brought lunch from Katz's, which was located a few blocks away. I still remember that turkey on rye, french fries and a Dr. Brown's cherry soda. He was born on the Lower East Side and I believe that Katz's was and remained his favorite restaurant. While at the gallery that day a young man, stopped in out of curiosity when he saw my name on the sign outside. His last name was Florin too, and he wondered if I might be related to the family, Well, my Dad and he got to talking and it turns out that his father and my father were first cousin's. They had lost touch and hadn't spoken in years. Phone numbers were exchanged and my Dad and his cousin Wilber caught up with one another, all due to a chance meeting. 

Founded in 1888, Katz's isn't what it once was, today's prices are high and it is a popular tourist magnet (pre-Covid). People still hanker for the food though, and when I took the photo that this painting is based on, folks were lined up, wearing their masks and waiting to go inside and order something tasty. I still enjoy going there every so often as it evokes so many memories for me. The interior is little changed, the countermen are still slinging those sandwiches, the signage - "Send A Salami to your Boy in the Army" still adorns the walls along with the framed photos the many notable people who've eaten there over the years. A new high-rise building looms next door dwarfing the low-rise building and there was talk that Katz's was going to disappear during construction but thankfully it is still around.