After nearly 100 years in business, Benkovitz Seafoods, at 2300 Smallman St. in the Strip District, has closed. The fish market opened on Centre Street in 1916 by Joseph and brothers Reuben and Morris Benkovitz under the name "Live Fish."
Eventually Live Fish was renamed Benkovitz Seafoods. In the late 1960s, the business relocated to the Strip and built additions to include a restaurant and catering operation. Benkovitz supplied restaurants and diners with yellow pike, white fish, sea bass and croaker among other things. Eventually Joseph's son Bernard took over the helm.
The year 2007 was the last one the Benkovitz family owned the business. Listwak & Associates incorporated Smallman Market, LLC, which had purchased Nordic Holdings, LLC, the partnership between R.J. McSorley and the Benkovitz family. Bernard Benkovitz died in July 2009.
Benkovitz Seafoods held its rummage sale today, confirmed Henry Dewey, former chef at Benkovitz Seafoods for "six or eight years," now proprietor of Penn Avenue Fish Co. Little was left as of late morning, he said.
Mr. Dewey was notified of the closure by a customer on Saturday. A supplier confirmed orders ceased over the weekend. And a leasing agent told the Post-Gazette the 4,000-square-foot space is now listed as for rent.
"Benkovitz used to be the best in the city," said Mr. Dewey.
"We had more fish back then than we do now," said Bernard Benkovitz in a 2003 interview with the Post-Gazette. "Much of it came from a very clean Lake Erie and from the New Jersey coast." At its peak, Benkovitz Seafoods supplied the most intrepid eaters, who weren't shy to feast on cold-smoked haddock, turtle soup, conch chowder or escargot.
"People were much more adventurous in those days."
Andy Starnes, Post-Gazette photo of roasted branzino. Dish had been prepared by then-Benkovitz chef Henry Dewey, who now owns Penn Avenue Fish Co.