In this issue, we honor our past with a portfolio of Westchester downtown businesses that still grace our streets from earlier times. Some continue to be run by the original families; others have evolved over time. With their classic storefronts, nostalgic signage, and years of experience, they remind us of days gone by—while still serving us today.
The Setback Inn
33 Main St, Tarrytown
Come into Tarrytown’s Setback Inn and Scott Toth may serve you a Stella or join you in a game of darts. When his Hungarian grandparents, Gus and Olga Toth, opened the place back in 1959, it looked much like it does today. The Setback’s authentic atmosphere has been tapped for TV commercials and Hollywood films starring Robert De Niro, Julia Roberts, and Keanu Reeves. Open from 6 pm on weeknights and noon on weekends, it’s a stone’s throw from Main Street’s other vintage landmark: The Tarrytown Music Hall. Stop in for a drink and a walk down Memory Lane.
343 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck
Ralph’s Electric has been in the appliance business for 70+ years—and the store’s retro look makes it easy to imagine customers pulling up in two-toned Studebakers and Cadillacs with fins. Since Ralph’s opened in the ’40s, the world of electric appliances has completely changed, but the expertise of the store’s salespeople has remained constant. Whether you want an air conditioner, stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer or dryer, you’ll find it at Ralph’s Electric.
6 Palmer Ave, Scarsdale
For more than 80 years, men of all ages have been climbing into Heathcote’s big barbershop chairs for haircuts and shaves. Originally from Italy, Gerardo Capobianco bought the Heathcote Barbershop 45 years ago. These days, his son, Angelo, carries on the family tradition. “I remember sitting in the corner watching my dad cut hair when I was a little boy,” he says. “Now, it’s me.”
Winslow Mens Wear
32 S 4th Ave, Mount Vernon
In the 1930s and ’40s, every well-dressed man wore a suit—and a hat—to work, to stroll, and go out in the evening. Winslow Men’s Wear was there to supply those hats, along with the well-tailored finery men demanded decades ago. It still offers a wide array of fashionable menswear while its spectacular storefront sign (love that curly “W”) continues to add style to the street.
Wolf’s Lane Delicatessen
247 Wolf’s Lane, Pelham
This local favorite has been serving deli food for over half a century. The charming Tudor building add a lot to the atmosphere. For the past two decades, owner John Moran has been at the helm, serving coffee and cold cuts to area residents in the same location they’ve frequented for decades.
122 S 4th Ave, Mount Vernon
If the Mad Men location scouts needed the perfect ’60s furniture storefront, this would be it. From the turquoise tone to the diamond design, it’s a mid-century classic. The original signage says, “Everything for the home” and that’s still what Regal offers its neighborhood customers—bedroom and living-room furniture, wall units, rugs, and more—just as it’s been doing for more than 50 years.
Arrow Lamp & Lighting
2091 Boston Post Rd, Larchmont
Charles Ackerman opened Arrow in 1946 and moved it across the street to its current location in 1960, adding the stainless-steel exterior and spiffy neon sign. In 1969, he hired Craig Barre to sweep floors and clean chandeliers. Over time, Craig learned the business and bought it in 1980, continuing the craftsmanship of his mentor. Arrow makes many of the beautiful lamps it sells, and the staff is masterful at repairing older lighting fixtures and lamps.
525 Main St, New Rochelle
In 1888, Lithuanian immigrant Israel Ben Cohen opened his first men’s clothing store in Mamaroneck. After a few location changes, three of his sons—Nat, Lip, and Dave—opened the impressive store in 1941 that still stands today. Today, Nat’s son, Lewis, and his wife, Maryce, carry brands like Hickey Freeman, which are as classic as the storefront itself (and an array of women’s clothing, too).
119 Fifth Ave, Pelham
The well-worn wooden floors at Wise are indicative of the generations of patrons who’ve perused the aisles at this hardware store for more than 100 years. Joel Weinblatt is the store’s third owner and today his son, Bill, is boss. “When a customer tells me they need a thig-a-ma-jig for a what-cha-ma-call it,” Joel says, “we know just what they need.” Wise stocks a large supply of vintage hardware for the area’s older homes—along with 40,000 other items.
Vaccaro (Harwood) Shoe Repair
11 Boniface Circle, Scarsdale
Nicky Vaccaro, runs the shoe repair today that his father ran before him. Originally opened in 1929 by Donato Vaccaro, Luke’s elegant grandfather, the store once had 12 repairmen fixing shoes, handbags, luggage, and zippers with finesse. The original shop featured fine lighting fixtures, a beautiful tile floor, and a welcoming coffee corner. In the heart of the village, Vaccaro still does repairs with expertise.
Telerama Television Service
361 North Ave, New Rochelle
Got a retro console TV you’d like to repair? Ross Rondinelli can get it up and running. These days, he can also fix your flat-screen or Blu-ray. Rondinelli started the business in 1956, and his neon peacock sign still glows as he uses his years of experience to repair not only TVs old and new, but air conditioners and radios, too. According to Rondinelli, older TVs had 1500 different parts and a repair could mean just replacing one or two of those parts. Current TVs have six sections and fixing one means replacing the entire section.
Larchmont resident Leslie Long loves all things vintage—even storefronts. More of her photographs can be seen at leslielongportfolio.com.