The Scharys of Schary Manor -- Caterers for Special Occasions

by Nat Bodian

From 1914 to 1925, the pre-eminent kosher catering establishment serving the needs of the Jews of Newark and vicinity for weddings, bar mitzvahs, anniversaries and other special occasions was the Schary Manor.

In its 11-year lifespan under the management of Herman and Belle Schary, it operated from four different locations in or close to Newark's center of Jewish population, the old Third Ward.

The Scharys were Eastern European immigrants who had married in 1895, he at 22, and she at 20, and took up life in Newark's Third Ward, beginning on Charlton Street.

After two tries at running a restaurant, one of them on Mulberry Street in Newark, they decided to apply their culinary skills to starting a kosher catering business.

They opened their first catering establishment in 1914 at 584 High Street in what for years had been an abandoned building.

Although of limited means, the house had been affordable to the Scharys because it had been abandoned years before when its owner committed suicide on the premises. Neighborhood children believed at the time that the house was haunted by the ghost of the deceased who roamed the place at night clanking chains.

For the Scharys, the home at 584 High Street served as both the family business and the family home for the Scharys and their four children, Isadore1, Sam, Lillian and Frances. Also living with them were Belle Schary's parents, Baruch and Shaina Drachler, known to their children only as Zaidi and Bubeh.

Their kosher catering business apparently met a community need because it was successful from the start. Building on its early success, two years later, the Schary family purchased and moved to a larger four-story building at 604 High Street at Court Street.

604 High Street Location

604 High Street was a good location from both a business and personal standpoint. The heart of Newark's Jewish shopping district was just a few blocks up the street, Prince Street. and the family's synagogue, the Congregation Anshe Russia, was also just a few blocks up West Kinney Street between Broome and Prince Streets.

It was also near the family barbershop used by Father Schary, his two sons, and their live-in grandpa, Zaidi. The barber was Glickstein's Barbershop on Broome Street near Springfield Avenue.

The Glickstein brothers shop not only gave shaves and haircuts, but also specialized in cupping ("bankes"), gave music lessons, and provide klezmer music for special Jewish occasions--sometimes at Schary Manor.

Some 604 High Street Neighbors

With the move to No. 604 High Street, the Scharys also acquired a couple of interesting neighbors directly across High Street, Gottfried Krueger2 and his wife, and M. Ellenstein3, Dentist.

Soldiers in the Kitchen

As America got involved in World War I, Army troop truck convoys, enroute from Fort Dix to their Hoboken embarkation points, were often routed across High Street, and were known to have stopped at Schary Manor and 'borrowed' their kitchen facilities to prepare food for the hungry troops in the convoys on their way to war.

The Scharys as Businesspeople

The Scharys were astute, clearheaded, and likeable businesspeople who managed and operated their catering business with great precision. Mrs. Schary was the kitchen boss and crisis-manager and seemed able to overcome any problem. Born in Russia in 1875, she was brought to America in 1891. Although she had scant formal education, along the way she had acquired a fluency in Yiddish, Polish, Russian, Hungarian, German, and English.

Herman, born in Riga in 1873, who arrived in America in 1892, was a suave businessman who favored German as a language, but spoke Yiddish, Polish, Russian, and some Swedish. He had lived in England for a while during his youth.

The sign outside both High Street locations operated by the Scharys bore the same legend: Schary Manor - Catering for Special Occasions. And, truly, a menu could be crafted for virtually any type of event -- at a price deemed affordable.

The price schedule for weddings ranged from the four-dollar-per-couple menu to their 'fanciest' -- the ten-dollar menu with flowers4.

On to Belmont Avenue

As their kosher catering business continued to flourish, the Scharys felt pressure to expand. They sold the 604 High Street building and bought the Krueger Auditorium building at 25 Belmont Street, just a stone's throw from the landmark Krueger Brewery and at the northwest corner of the Third Ward.

The huge red brick building had a first floor banquet room that seated 2,000, replete with three kitchens, and smaller rooms on other floors.

Their Fourth and Final Location

With continued success on Belmont Avenue, the Scharys sold the Belmont Avenue building and occupied a new and glittering fourth Schary Manor building, with family living quarters, at 104-106 Clinton Avenue, midway between the Starting points of High and Washington Streets.

The Clinton Avenue operation was yet another success. However, one year after its opening, in 1925, the Scharys sold their catering business for a substantial sum, moved to an apartment on Belmont Avenue, and made plans for a future with summers down the shore and winters in Florida.

Son Isadore Heads for a Life in Showbiz

By this time, the Schary's son Isadore--his name now changed to Dore--had developed a strong interest in the theatre and in dramatic writing. When he wasn't busy helping in the family business, he had helped write and direct shows at the YMHA and in Temple B'nai Abraham, and at a summer camp in the Catskills. He was on his way5.


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