Gabila's: Replacement knish machine has landed

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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The end of America's fried-knish drought is in sight.

A custom-made machine that produces the square dumplings arrived Thursday afternoon at the Gabila's Knishes factory in Copiague, a company official said, almost five months after the original was damaged in a fire.

Stacey Ziskin Gabay, executive vice president and general counsel, said the factory has become a hive of activity since the arrival of the machine, which makes the product accounting for about three-quarters of the company's revenue.

"It's very intense right now," she said.

Ziskin Gabay said the company needs clearance from the Copiague fire marshal before it can put the machine through a dry run.

When can fried knish fans expect the first products to hit retail outlets?

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That probably won't happen until "some point next week," she said.

The knish machine's arrival follows months of dashed hopes after the company pointed toward resumed production in November, December and then January.

The Sept. 26 fire prompted a media frenzy as fried knish lovers bemoaned the loss of the nation's sole large-scale producer.

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Until the fire, Gabila's made about 13 million fried knishes a year and distributed them through warehouse clubs, supermarkets, restaurants and pushcarts.

Once the impact of the fire became apparent, the 93-year-old company housed in a nondescript 10,000-square-foot factory became national news. Ziskin Gabay appeared on TV news shows, and headline writers rolled out Yiddishisms like "kvetch," "nosh" and "oy vey" in the face of the shortage of the simple dish popularized by Jewish immigrants in New York City in the early 1900s.

Gabila's was founded by Bella Gabay, who cooked the knishes in her Lower East Side kitchen, and her husband, Elia Gabay, who sold them from a pushcart. By 1928 business was booming, and the Gabays moved production to a factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In 2006 the company left Brooklyn and moved to the factory in Copiague.

Though the square, fried knishes stuffed with potatoes, spinach and other fillings are the company's flagship product, Gabila's also makes round, baked knishes, blintzes, potato pancakes and other dishes.

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