Surf and Stillwell renamed for Nathan's Famous founders
Surf and Stillwell avenues were ceremoniously renamed Nathan and Ida Handwerker Way Saturday after the couple who built Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs in Brooklyn.
Nathan Handwerker arrived in the U.S. from Poland at the age of 20. He had no formal education, but worked hard in the restaurant business. He managed to save up enough to open his own shop, Nathan's Famous, back in 1916.
Ida Greenwald settled in the borough after leaving Poland as a teenager. She worked at a food stand where Handwerker noticed her. They fell in love, marrying in 1918 and worked side by side while raising three children.
Greenwald developed the unique spice formula which has made the restaurant famous. The recipe is still a secret to this day. Nathan's sold each hot dog for 5 cents, making it an instant success.
Both worked tirelessly for 50 years until retiring in 1971. They both passed away a few years later, in 1974 and 1976.
Family members say the new street sign is great tribute to their hard work.
"When my family looks at the street sign, we know that Nathan and Ida are very proud," says grandson Bill Handwerker.
"They really did make the American dream come true for them. They started with pennies in their pockets and not even able to speak English," says David Sternshein.
Nathan's Famous in Coney Island was a favorite food spot for Al Capone and Cary Grant. Robert F. Kennedy also started his U.S. Senate campaign in front of the business.