By Kurt Yalcin
History smells a lot like matsoz, and both can be found at 152 Rivington Street.
Located in Manhattan’s historical Lower East Side, the Streits factory is the only family owned matsoz bakery in the United States. The multi-building complex opened in 1925, when founder Aron Streit moved his handmade bakery on Pitt Street to the tenement buildings on Rivington Street.
Now, the smell of fresh Matsoz still pervades the ever-changing neighbor. Despite the expansion of Chinatown, the Streits family store opens its doors daily and is a trademark of the neighborhood and its past. Both store and factory are operational symbols of a time when the Lower East Side was predominantly Jewish.
“Being Located in the Lower East Side has a history not only to the family personally but to most the Jews in America, who came to Ellis Island, who initially would be living in the Lower East Side,” Alan M. Adler, great grandson of Aron Streit, said.
But now the company is looking at a change of residence. The company and family hope to maintain this history alongside new plans to move the factory beyond its once permanent place.
“It’s terribly inefficient working in, you know, old tenement buildings in the Lower East Side,” Adler said.
Despite the immense amount of history garnered at 152 Rivington Street, a new location is needed. The current two convection ovens may produce over 1,000 pounds of matsoz an hour each, but the awkward set-up of a major matsoz factory in a Manhattan building creates unnecessary expenses.
Adler, current co-owner of the Streits company, is cautious about moving the baking outside of Manhattan despite the need. The unique setting of the Streits matsoz is to Adler, what adds to the matsoz flavor and history.
“There’s a lot of pride and emotion tied up with making the matsoz, and especially with making it here which has made it so difficult moving to a new modern factory. We’re very hesitant to give up the family history that is here on the Lower East Side“ he said.
But for now, during the company’s busiest time, Passover, Adler is looking at the present.
“We’re still here!”