Steve Leibowitz’s grandfather opened America’s first pickle stand in 1897 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It quickly became an institution and a decade later, they started supplying pickles famed for Guss’ Pickles when they opened in the same neighborhood.
“My title in the company is CPM,” said Leibowitz. “What’s a CPM? Chief Pickle Maven.”
The third generation pickle maker moved the operation to the Bronx in 2005 because of rising rent in the old neighborhood. He works long hours, arriving at 6 a.m. every day, but he says that he is happy to do it. “I should be retired but I love what I’m doing,” Leibowitz said. “I hope this continues for many, many more generations.”
Liebowitz said he enjoys watching people’s faces when they bite into his pickles and he is proud of what they make. “There’s no hanky panky,” he said. “You get what you pay for in this life and we have the best product going.”
Their biggest sellers are fresh kosher dill spears but that’s not Leibowitz’s go-to. He said his favorite pickle is a New York sour and that the bread and butter variety are a close second. “You chop that up in a fresh tuna sandwich and I’m in heaven.”
Leibowitz has strong views on the importance of pickles. “You can have the best roast beef sandwich money could buy and if they give you a pickle and it’s not that great, all of a sudden the roast beef doesn’t taste good, the bread isn’t fresh, the mustard is too yellow.
“The pickle makes the perfect sandwich,” said Leibowitz. “Remember that!”