Up in smoked fish: 80-year-old Williamsburg lox factory for sale

Prime cut: Service Smoked Fish is on the chopping block. And not the kind you lop fish heads off on.
Photo by Jason Speakman

A longtime Williamsburg smoked-fish factory could be getting ready to change the lox.

Service Smoked Fish, which supplies delicacies including smoked salmon, whitefish, and kippered salmon to delis and restaurants across the city, is up for sale, along with the Throop Avenue building that has housed the operation for decades. Its owner said he set the price at $9.75 million after fielding dozens of offers for the factory in recent years.

“I got tired of answering the door and telling everyone my life story,” Jay Wiener said. “So I decided to list it with a number.”

Wiener has not named a figure for the business, but said he is open to selling it, too.

“Everything has got its price,” he said. “If someone offers me enough money, I will take it.”

The fishmonger is not 100 percent excited about the prospect of giving the building or the business up, even for the boatload of cash he is asking.

“I have mixed feelings,” he said. “We will see if anyone meets my price and if I go anywhere.”

Wiener’s father Nathan “Chick” Wiener founded Service Smoked Fish in 1934 in a different neighborhood factory and moved to Throop Avenue at Walton Street in 1955.

Smoked fish holds a special place in Brooklyn’s history. In the early 20th century, it was cheap and plentiful and often offered as a free side with a nickel beer. It was a staple of the then-huge Jewish middle class in the borough, but went out of fashion when much of the Jewish population moved to the suburbs. Subsequently, it became a high-priced delicacy, a fixture of the smoked-fish scene explained.

“It was in danger of going away from the food lexicon for a while, and then the whole world caught on,” said Mark Federman, a third-generation owner of the storied Manhattan appetizing shop Russ and Daughters, and a customer of Service Smoked Fish. “It became an item for first-class airlines and fancy Sunday brunches.”

Service sits within the nine blocks of the low-slung Broadway Triangle that the city targeted for redevelopment as a 1,895-unit mixed-income housing complex in 2006, only to have the project derailed by litigation claiming the plan unfairly favored large Hasidic Jewish families over low-income black and Latino neighborhood residents. Much of the property in the area is city-owned, vacant, and polluted.

If Service closes, Brooklyn will be left with just two smoked fish factories — Acme Smoked Fish in Greenpoint and Banner in Coney Island.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurf‌aro@c‌ngloc‌al.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitt‌er.com/‌Danie‌lleFu‌rfaro.

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