In September of 1972, Ronnie Dragoon purchased an out-of-business deli in Baldwin, LI. He transformed the deli into what is today seven-location, full-service restaurant Ben’s Kosher Deli including one in Boca Raton, FL and the newest in Scarsdale. We caught up with Dragoon to ask him about his 45 years in the business.
What is the biggest difference in the dining public from now compared to when you started?
Most are deceased! On a more serious note, they are more apt to try different menu items as opposed to our older patrons.
What is does Jewish deli cuisine mean to you?
The cuisine from our eastern European peasant food forebears.
Any longstanding family recipes on the menu?
What is the best part of being a restaurateur?
Learning to be a psychologist without prior professional training.
What is the most challenging part of being a restaurateur?
The long hours required on a daily basis with weekends, nights, holidays when one’s family is off from school and work.
Can you give me your favorite dish at Ben’s?
Hungarian Goulash over peas and carrots and wide pasta noodles.
What can you tell me about your signature pastrami sandwich?
We double-steam our pastrami so it is soft, causing it to melt in your mouth!
What’s a good sign of an authentic matzoh ball soup?
A light matzoh ball and a golden chicken soup made with whole chickens and chicken bones.
Anything house-made at Ben’s you are especially proud of?
All the homemade deli side salads and the in-house curing of our corned beefs and tongues.
Have any famous clientele dined at any of the locations?
Henny Youngman, Jackie Mason, NY Giant Carl Banks, New York Met David Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don King, WFAN’s Mike Francesa, Jesse Eisenberg, Ethan Hawke, Hillary Clinton, Benny Goodman, soap opera stars, and many local and national politicians are among the many.
Ben’s of Scarsdale
718 Central Ave, Scarsdale
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