The El Avram Story

El Avram NYC 1967
El Avram NYC 1967

At the end of May 1967 I bought the El Chico club located on 80 Grove Street NYC from Goldman-Lorenzo real estate tycoon. Benito Collada’s El Chico was a famous Spanish night club from 1929 to 1965. I changed the word “Chico” to “Avram”.

A few days later, after cleaning up the place, I opened the club for business.

I got a liquor & cabaret license and become the youngest club owner. My partner was Robert Engelhart who was the Co-owner of Café Feenjon.

The first night we opened, the police came for inspection. My partner ran out and left me to deal with the police inspection which resulted in a summons for having an open garbage can. I called Robert and asked him why he ran out and he told me to go and find somebody to buy him out as he was afraid to have problem with his Feenjon partner.

I still didn’t have my Green Card and I was looking for an American partner. Nobody was willing to buy Robert out. So I approached the owner of café Tel Aviv, Nahum Mayers, and asked him to go along with me but Nahum told me he’s moving his cafe to a different location and he has no money. I offered Nahum to loan him the money which he agreed to pay me back on a monthly installment within three months.

Nahum had the experience of setting up the menu and the book keeping. He brought in Sylvia, a great book keeper & manager.

After Nahum re-opened his café Tel Aviv, he noticed that it was competing with El Avram. He started to make demands such as not allowing me to hire waiters, musicians and entertainers stating that he had problems at the café Tel Aviv with those people.

Nahum didn’t start to pay the loan I gave him so my lawyer asked him to surrender his 50% stock at El Avram back to me. Nahum decided to sell his share to Bob Janoff, a person I didn’t like, and than return his loan back to me.

Now I had a new person that I disliked as my 50% partner.

Bob was an Insurance investigator in which he knew quite a lot of people. He brought in a CEO of an Insurance company by the name of Al Sanders which fell in love with El Avram and opened  an El Avram club in Miami, Florida.

In 1969 we opened the Miami club in which we accommodated 350 people with a valet parking on the 79th St.. couseway. We had a full house almost every day of the week. I brought from NYC a great band and entertainments like Holly Lipton ,Johny Yun and belly dancers.

The customers loved the show but hated the food. Al & Bob didn’t want me to get involved with the operation. Kid, you just entertain” they used to tell me and told the captain of the Yacht that Al owned to take me any where I’d like to sail and they will take care of the business.

I was worried about my reputation and asked to leave Miami and go back to NYC .I was asked to stay longer as Al was looking for two more locations in Atlanta, Georgia and Toronto, Canada. I stayed for three more weeks and than went back to NYC in which I was “grilled” by Al’s company staff about the Miami situation.

I suggested to them to exchange the El Avram shares in Miami for the 50% shares Bob Janoff owned in El Avram NYC. They listened to me and Bob took over the Miami location while Al Sanders become my 50% partner at El Avram NYC.

Al was a tough business man and I was scared of his power but his vice president, Milt Kligler, was assisting me to handling him and Al became my friend.

Al’s Insurance company got in trouble and he was short of money. Al started to demand money from the club which hardly made the weekly payroll. Al’s vice president Milt suggested that I should buy him out and take Fred, the El Avram manager, as a 25% partner.

I bought out Al and made Fred my partner. As Fred didn’t have money to pay for the partnership, we made an arrangement that every week I’ll deduct a payment from his salary.

Fred Schneider become my club manager and partner until we sold the El Avram location on Halloween 1982. We then bought an Italian restaurant on 108st. and 63rd in Queens by the name Mario’s which we owned for 10 years.

Fred decided to leave NY and we had to sell Mario’s. El Avram

5 thoughts on “The El Avram Story

  1. I remember your restaurant well. One of the last times I was there was the night I graduated high school with a very full table of other people. We must’ve been about 15-20 people all together and it was 1979. I was so sad when you closed. Good wishes wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had a wonderful night there in 1974 or 1975 with my new fiance ( we are now married for 44 years) That evening, ITAMAR was in your club and got up and sang Rachel, Rachel.
    Wow. What a wonderful memory.
    May G-d bless you and keep you.
    Frank Farkas

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I grew up in NY and El Avram was a family favorite. I had my Sweet 16 there in 1972. None of my friends ever saw a belly dancer perform and I laughed watching the dropping jaws. Itamar was singing that night. Great memories!

    Like

    • Thank you for asking
      I’m enjoying Life with my children and Grandchildren. I’m not preforming but when friends are coming we do sing and having fun like we had before. I have in my basement a small club that I built for such occasions.

      Like

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