One of Hoboken’s most well known landmarks will soon be leased to new managers who will keep some of the historic features while adding modern touches. Schnackenberg’s luncheonette on upper Washington Street has been a part of Hoboken since 1931.
Putting rumors to rest
Schnackenberg’s has served burgers and sodas at its counter for many generations, at old-fashioned prices. But the longtime owners say some things will have to change.
Dorothy Novak’s parents opened the store, and she has passed on the family business to her son, Mark.
Mark Novak said last week that the restaurant has not been sold, but will be leased. He did not disclose who the mystery leaser is.
“It’s still going to maintain the integrity that my grandparents started.” - Mark Novak
Schnackenberg’s owners have faith in the lessee.
“The person that we’re dealing with has a respect for the history of the town and of us and tradition,” said Novak.
According to owner Novak, renovations will begin sometime in September.
“We’re in a situation where we’re not able to do it [renovations] all by ourselves,” he said. “When all is said and done I think everyone will be very happy.”
Mother and son are still trying to determine what changes will be made to the business. He said that he and the lessee will hold a press conference at some point.
“I wouldn’t expect it to stay exactly the same,” Novak said, “but I would hope some items would remain. It’s still going to maintain the integrity that my grandparents started.”
Novak said the restaurant will still be able to make its famous chocolate during the winter. Their handmade candy is proudly displayed in the window during holidays such as Easter.
As for the changes, “I think ultimately it’s a good thing because we’ve been open since 1931 and there are things that need to be brought up to a more modern way,” said Novak. “Ultimately it’s going to be a good thing for everybody: the town and for us.”
“The man is very excited,” Dorothy said. “He has wonderful ideas, so it can only be great.”
Keeping up with tradition
Novak is adamant that they stay open for Labor Day weekend, which is when the establishment was opened.
“My parents opened up Labor Day weekend, which is coming up, so we wanted to still be doing what we do...to celebrate our 81st year,” Novak said.
Novak said that while some of their customers love the look, it may not be for everybody.
“It’s very old-fashioned, obviously, and people are used to more modern things. But our customers love us and they probably would be reticent to change,” Novak said.
Items that have made Schnackenberg’s so true to its history are two antique cash registers and a phone booth. Although the cash registers are elegant, they may not be practical for the renovation.
“The new person may have in mind to get a new modern system; I don’t know,” said Dorothy. “We’re very proud of our old cash registers.”
Dorothy, who has devoted much of her life to Schnackenberg’s, is now looking forward to retirement and spending time with her grandchildren.
Schnackenberg’s isn’t only known locally. In fact, it has been used in several movies, including “The Baskeball Diaries.” The cast of that 1995 movie spent several days filming there in 1994, including stars Leonardo DeCaprio and Mark Wahlberg.
The filming caused enough of a commotion that the New York Times did a story soon after the filming, about the restaurant and its place in movies. The piece can be found on-line.
Schanckenberg’s is located at 1110 Washington St.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org