Schnackies is Back!
By Sally Deering
If youâ€™ve been in the Hoboken area for a while, itâ€™s likely youâ€™ve visited Schnackenbergâ€™s Luncheonette and may even have a â€œSchnackieâ€™sâ€ story or two from back in the day. Thatâ€™s what Eugene and Joyce Flinn have been learning ever since they took over â€œSchnackieâ€™sâ€ and gave the old-fashioned ice cream parlor a facelift thatâ€™s both retro and nouveau.
The Flinns â€“ who own Amandaâ€™s and the Elysian CafÃ© in Hoboken â€“ really outdid themselves with Schnackieâ€™s restoration. In many ways it looks pretty much the way it did back when it opened in 1931; the wooden booths in the dining room are original; so is the tiled floor that has been spiffed and retiled in some places. The display cases of homemade chocolates and fresh doughnuts and pastries are there, too, and so is the counter with all new marble countertop and red and tan upholstered stools that swirl before a real soda fountain where Egg Creams are made with real pressurized seltzer. You can have Cherry Cokes, too, the kind made with real syrup, and Strawberry Malts, Chocolate Milkshakes and Root Beer Floats.
The Novak family, descendants of Henry Schnackenberg who opened the luncheonette in 1931, turned Schnackieâ€™s over to the Finns in 2012. They, in turn, restored it and brought it up to code.
â€œThey saw what we did with the Elysian and we knew them from town,â€ Joyce Flinn says. â€œWe didnâ€™t want to do anything untoward. Itâ€™s still their family name.â€
Restoring Schnackenbergâ€™s has been a labor of love, especially for Eugene, who was a history major when he attended Saint Peterâ€™s College in Jersey City.
â€œSome men hit middle-age and get a sports car; Eugene takes over an ice cream parlor,â€ Joyce says. â€œEugene loves this place and he has a strong sense of history. He doesnâ€™t just do renovation, he does historical renovation.â€
Along with the charming atmosphere, the Flinns offer their customers a breakfast and lunch menu that overflows with comfort food. Where else can you get a bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich? The breakfast menu which is served daily till 11 am features eggs any way you like them with ham, bacon or sausage; Omelets, French Toast and Pancakes â€“ which you can also get gluten-free. There are hot and cold cereals like Farina and Granola and for those who like a hearty morning meal they offer the British Breakfast with eggs over easy, grilled tomato, Heinz baked beans and bangers (sausages); and the Breakfast Burrito with scrambled eggs, sausage, onions and salsa on the side.
For lunch, there are soups, salads, burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches like Roast Beef, Reuben, Roast Vegetables, Meat Loaf, Tuna Melt and the luncheonette staple â€“ the BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato). Entrees include Fish & Chips, Meat Loaf, Chili and Mac & Cheese; and thereâ€™s a kids menu with Peanut Butter & Jelly, Mac & Cheese and Chicken Fingers for those younger taste-buds.
The Flinns have also kept their customersâ€™ love of sweets a big priority. Delicious home-made doughnuts, pastries and buns are baked every day. One visitor had the homemade jelly doughnut â€“ its square, so you know itâ€™s fresh â€“ and absolutely delicious with strawberry jelly that burst in your mouth with every bite.
The restored wall near the entrance has shelves with old-fashioned candy jars filled with Swedish Fish, Malted Milk Balls, Spice Drops and Mary Janes; and thereâ€™s an old fashioned candy scale and radio, too. A sliding ladder lets you get to the top shelf and an old-fashioned cash register rings up your purchases.
For now, Schnackieâ€™s is open 7 am to 5 pm and serves the breakfast and lunch crowd. The coffee is delicious and comes in Schackieâ€™s mugs that can be purchased at the register along with a Schnackenbergâ€™s T-Shirt.
During the first week Schnackieâ€™s opened, a water problem forced the Flinns to close the restaurant one morning while workers dug up the street out front to fix the problem. Meanwhile, a parade of customers stopped in and the Finns gave out free doughnuts.Â People who remembered Schnackieâ€™s from years passed also popped in and shared their Schnackieâ€™s memories.
â€œOne thing that makes this business so great, so real, is that you get human interaction,â€ Eugene says after speaking with a seasoned Hoboken resident. â€œHuman interaction is something people still need and we donâ€™t get enough of it.â€
Audrey Calligy grew up down the street from Schnackenbergâ€™s and remembers the day the luncheonette opened in 1931; Calligy had ice cream and her cousin a cherry coke.
â€œA cherry coke was a real New York thing,â€ Calligy recalls, sitting in the new Schnackieâ€™s with her daughters Mary Schecter and Cathleen Calligy-Gonzalez. â€œAs young kids, we all hung out at Schnackies, always looking for the cute boys. I have very fond memories. I used to come here with my husband before we got married. We would come here on dates and play the jukebox. â€
If you go:
1110 Washington Street
Hours:Â Open every day from 7 am to 5 pm