SEPTEMBER 2019 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 25
CENTURY OF TRADITION
BY CLAUDE SOLNIK
When the Gabay family decided to go
into business in 1921, they didn’t name
their company after themselves.
“They looked in the phone book for a
name similar to Gabay,” says Stacey
Ziskin Gabay, general counsel for Gabila
Food Products. “They wanted to
be sure the company was successful
and didn’t want to name it after them,
if it wasn’t. Luckily, it was.”
Ninety-eight years later, Gabila’s
is led by the Gabay family’s fourth
generation and is a sort of king of the
knish, supplying more than 1 billion
of these items — about 15 million
CBS New York dubbed knishes made
by the company, which moved from
Brooklyn to Copiague in 2006, among
the top 10 iconic New York foods.
Gabila, led by Elliott Gabay,
boasts being a Brooklyn tradition
and a Long Island business.
“These items are a huge part of
the holiday,” Ziskin Gabay adds
of the Jewish high holidays this
time of year. “The stores stock
up on knishes, pancakes, blintzes,
puddings, and souffles.”
Elia and Bella Gabay emigrated
from a town called “Niš,” pronounced
“Nish” in Yugoslavia
in 1919 and launched Gabila’s
in 1921, making “Brooklyn’s
Original Coney Island Square
Knish” in their kitchen on Manhattan’s
Lower East Side. Bella cooked
and Elia sold knishes on a pushcart.
They opened a factory in 1928 in
“The main item is still the same, original
recipe,” Ziskin Gabay says. “It’s
like a piece of nostalgia.”
The company’s flagship product
remains its lightly seasoned, fried
Coney Island square potato knish,
although it makes about 100
items, including baked round
knishes, pancakes, souffles,
blintzes, matzoh balls, and other
“We add products periodically.
Knock on wood, the company’s
doing well. It is adapting,” Ziskin
Gabay concludes. “The older generations
introduce the new ones
to our product. Even though
it’s more of a traditional item,
it seems to find its way in the
After a fire six years ago, the
company stopped making its flagship
knishes for roughly half a year.
“We continued to operate and sell
other items,” Ziskin Gabay adds. “A
lot of our clients came out and supported
us. We learned how loyal our
Gabila's Knishes are sold nationwide
at Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club,
supermarkets, delis, restaurants,
and sports stadiums.
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