It’s the sweet taste of recognition.
The city honored a Coney Island institution on Sept. 24, co-naming the corner of Surf and Stillwell avenues “Nathan and Ida Handwerker Way” for the couple who made Nathan’s Famous a household name. The iconic Brooklyn eatery got on a roll when Handwerker and his wife, both Polish immigrants, opened the restaurant at the corner 100 years ago. And their bootstrapping should be an inspiration for anyone who comes to the U.S. to build a better life, the couple’s grandson said.
“People shared their stories about the personal significance of Nathan’s in their lives, and during the ceremony it hit me, and I became very emotional that this is something very special. I believe they deserve the honor, because they were part of a generation that came to this country and through hard work and determination were able to succeed in building a business that lasted 100 years. I hope it serves as an inspiration to people with vision that with hard work in this country you can succeed.”
Handwerker arrived in America at the age of 20, working for hot dog inventor Charles Feltman before striking out on his own in 1916. He eventually hired Ida Greenwald — another Polish immigrant — and it wasn’t long before the two fell in love, got married, and started running the business together.
Greenwald’s unique spice formula made Nathan’s hot dogs famous, and it remains a secret to this day.
The pair worked together on their business for more than 50 years until their retirement in 1971. They both passed away a few years later.