"For the last month I haven't had any knishes — my heart is broken," said Carol Anfuso, a native New Yorker who has been without a knish to nosh since the BJ's Wholesale store near her Atlanta home suddenly stopped stocking them.
But Anfuso didn't learn of the shortage until she visited her sister for lunch at the Pastrami King restaurant in Merrick, Long Island, and found that it was out of stock, too.
Pastrami King owner Joe Yamali said he normally sells about 2,000 knishes a month.
"It brings you back to your childhood and they're just so delicious," Yamali said. "Gabila is square and fried. You bite into it and the potato oozes out. It's very good."
Katz's Delicatessen, the 125-year-old landmark on Manhattan's Lower East Side, ordinarily sells about 6,000 knishes a month.
"I usually get four to take home," grumbled Brooklyn native Forrest Gurl. "Their crunchiness, their hard corners, the mustard and sauerkraut you put on them. You can't beat a knish."
Like most places, the round, baked version is still available. But Gurl harrumphed a familiar sentiment of knish devotees: "Who gets round knishes?"
Jesse Hochberg, a retired IT employee, didn't know there was a shortage until he got to the Katz's counter.
"I miss them," he said. "It's something I grew up with. I like the taste, sliced with mustard. ... I always look for them, and I haven't seen them recently."
Katz's chef Kenny Kohn has grown weary of explaining the shortage to customers. Along with the pastrami sandwiches, he serves up a typical New York attitude to the ongoing complaints.
"Get over it! Get a life! It's just a knish."
Dobnik reported from New York City.
For information on the reopening, go to www.srcity.org/emergency or call 707-543-4511.