Thursday, August 25, 2011

A New York Tokyo?

In 1970 I was sent to our Tokyo office for three months to fill in as Creative Director.
A short time in an amazing place and we have some great memories.

Japan was full of contrasts, just as something made sense and you thought you understood it
…everything changed.

While there a friend asked me if I wanted a pastrami on rye and an egg cream. This may seem like a normal question in New York but not too normal in downtown Tokyo.

I am a kid from Brooklyn, a pastrami on rye sounded great, so where do we get it in Tokyo?

He was an expat and lived in Tokyo for years, if anybody knew where, he certainly did. He took me to a typical street and we entered a building that led to a typical NY deli.

Surly, sarcastic waiters that were Japanese, that in itself was pretty odd.
Corned beef and pastrami in the showcases, rye bread and mustard on display, soda machines and behind it all was Ann Dinkins.
She was a flamboyant woman from New York, maybe even Brooklyn; at least that is what her accent told me.

It turns out, she came to Japan years ago with her husband as an expat, he had died and she remained in Japan. She was very much at home there and decided to make herself even more at home, she opened a deli.
To give it the right atmosphere, Ann trained the waiters to be sarcastic and surly and at times I thought they even had a NY Jewish accent. They would sigh and say” oy vey.”

She told me it was good for business and there was no staff turnover, due to their attitude, they could not get jobs anywhere else.
There is not a great deal of demand in Japan for sarcastic waiters. Good job Ann.

Ann also had the exclusive rights to import meats to Japan; it seems the royal family liked pastrami.

Just one of the bizarre things we enjoyed in Japan in 1970.

Today there is a NY deli, but it is in Disneyland Japan, I bet there are no sarcastic waiters there.

It just is not Ann Dinkins.


  1. FUNNY AS HELL. You have to be from NY ton appreciate. I love this story. Birbil, you've done it again, I'm going to lunch in a bit and no matter what my nutritionist worm says I am definitely having a corned beef on rye with some cole slaw and a big fat pickle on Ann. As Bob Hope would say "thanks for the memories". And thanks Greg for a great and funny story. You made my day.

  2. Ve have no cream ya vant a celery soda?
    Vat did you say??
    I did without a cream soda and a ginger ale was sorta quickly slammed on the table in front of me instead... They were certainly curt, grumpy waiters and I had to laugh through every delicious bite of my pastrami on rye slathered in mustard. As for Ann Dinkin, she was an eccentric character herself and quite a smart lady. She had been a milliner before opening her Deli business and pastrami sandwiches as it turned out were more lucrative than making hats.

  3. I remember this one - this is a good story! keeper! Ha!

  4. Did you work for Jim Farley at the time?