Gabila's cleared to resume knish production

A custom-made machine that produces the square dumplings arrived Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, at the Gabila's Knishes factory in Copiague, a company official said, almost five months after the original was damaged in a fire. Videojournalist: Jessica Rotkiewicz (Nov. 11, 2013)

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A fire marshal Thursday cleared Gabila's Knishes in Copiague to resume production of its mainstay product almost five months after a fire sidelined a key piece of equipment and resulted in a nationwide fried knish famine.

Stacey Ziskin Gabay, executive vice president and general counsel for the family-owned business, said production and delivery of the potato dumplings will begin on Monday.

"Normal delivery starts next week," she said. "We're going to make all efforts to service all our customers. We're going to service everybody. No one will be left out."

The fried knishes are sold around the country, from Manhattan street carts to Long Island delicatessens to Tennessee supermarkets.

Wally Goetz, owner of Lido Kosher Deli in Long Beach, said his customers have been clamoring for Gabila's fried squares. The supply interruption paradoxically has raised the profile of the humble knish.

"Because of this Gabila's fire, people are talking about knishes," he said.

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Production of Gabila's fried squares halted after the knish machine was damaged by water used to quell the Sept. 24 fire. The shortage led to headlines around the country and a mention on the news parody segment of "Saturday Night Live."

A custom-made replacement machine arrived two weeks ago, but production could not resume until an inspection by Copiague fire officials.

Ziskin Gabay said the 48-person company has been gearing up to churn out the knishes in high volume.

"We know it's going to be a lot higher than normal at the beginning," she said of demand. "We've been waiting and preparing for this for five months."

During the outage, the 93-year-old company continued making baked, round knishes, blintzes, potato pancakes and other items. The roughly 13 million fried square knishes Gabila's produces annually, however, account for about three-quarters of the company's revenue.

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