In a city not known as a delicatessen kingdom, Seymour Rich reigned as the “Blintz King” for decades. His mouthwatering blintzes fed hungry State Department officials and ambassadors as well as everyday Washington workers looking for authentic deli fare.
A 21-year-old Rich opened his first deli, Seymour’s, at 6th and H Streets NW in 1939. By 1945, he had moved to 19th and E Streets NW to operate Rich’s Restaurant. For more than 28 years, Rich’s menu included blintzes, chopped liver and overstuffed corned beef sandwiches.
The restaurant served a mix of government employees from nearby federal agencies as well as employees of the neighboring American Red Cross headquarters. Rich’s son, Ronald, recalls, “…you may not believe me when I tell you, but people were waiting in line to the curb to get in at lunch. [Dad] would not seat two people at a table of four. They’d have to share with another group of one or two in order to fit everyone in at lunch.”
In the 1970s, Rich opened an upscale restaurant, The Golden Table, in the Columbia Plaza complex near the State Department and the Kennedy Center. For 16 years, the restaurant was popular with government officials, ambassadors and cultural leaders alike.
Once the popular blintzes appeared in the frozen food aisle at Giant Food, Rich’s Famous Blintzes could be found outside the restaurants on plates across the greater Washington area. According to Rich’s son Ronald,, “The secret to the blintzes was ‘hard work.’ I don’t know what made them great—love and affection, I guess. We could not make them fast enough.”
Rich’s restaurants were truly a family affair. Wife Florence served as a hostess. Ronald started by making sandwiches and later became his father’s business partner. Daughter Jacqueline, a painter and sculptor, created restaurant decor.
After selling The Golden Table, the Rich family opened carryout delis throughout the city, including Rich’s Pickle Barrel, Rich’s Alley, Rich’s More Than A Deli and Rich’s Table in Chevy Chase.
Community Blintz Recipes
Blintzes are popular for the high holidays and especially the Yom Kippur break-fast. Many recipes for blintzes, blintz soufflés and variations have been included in cookbooks created by local synagogues, sisterhoods and community centers to share their members’ recipes. Below are some of these. Click on the photos to enlarge.
These recipes were published in the following cookbooks, provided courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington Collections, a gift of Lenore and Sol Gnatt.
1: A Pinch of This and a Dash of That, Montgomery County Jewish Community Center Sisterhood, c.1950s
2: Jewish Creative Cooking: 200 years of Jewish Cooking in America – with over 4000 years of heritage, Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, 1975
3: The Happy Cooker, Ohr Kodesh Sisterhood, Chevy Chase, MD, c.1970s
4 and 5: What’s Cookin’, Beth Shalom Sisterhood, Columbia, MD, 1981
6, 7 and 8: The Ten Condiments and other sinful delicacies, B’nai B’rith Women, Mitzvah Chapter, Columbia, MD, 1992
This year, the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, in conjunction with the Jewish Food Experience, is featuring DC’s rich Jewish food history as its Objects of the Month. For information on DC’s Jewish history—including programs, exhibitions and publications—visit jhsgw.org. Do you have material documenting a local Jewish-owned business that you’d like to donate to the Jewish Historical Society’s collection? Please contact JHSGW at [email protected] or (202) 789-0900.