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 Zum Zum?

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  • Total Posts: 375
  • Joined: 5/2/2006
  • Location: Killingworth, CT
Zum Zum? Mon, 07/10/06 5:26 PM (permalink)
No, this has nothing to do with Mazda cars.

Does anyone out there remember the Zum Zum chain that had a bunch of locations in NYC and surrounding areas back in the 60s/70s? It featured a German-style menu with various wursts, krauts, German beer, fried potatoes, etc. When we got to the city, I recall that my wife and I enjoyed stopping for a quick bite...the food was tasty and (for NYC) relatively inexpensive. Any memories?

    • Total Posts: 811
    • Joined: 7/17/2004
    • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
    RE: Zum Zum? Sat, 07/15/06 12:22 PM (permalink)
    I remember them and you have to add CLEAN to your list of attributes. I remember having lunch often at one in the Sperry Rand building at 1290 6th Avenue in Manhattan during the 70's. Do you remember an older German chain called Wienerwald? There was one on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills. I think they had a hard time competing with established German places like Luchows (Now gone), Niedersteins (gone), Triangle Hofbrau (gone), Durows (gone), Sammets (gone), Gebhardts in Ridgewood (gone), Zum Stammtisch (still going). See the thread here on roadfood about the German places that have gone.

      • Total Posts: 375
      • Joined: 5/2/2006
      • Location: Killingworth, CT
      RE: Zum Zum? Sun, 07/16/06 8:25 PM (permalink)
      Thanks for the response! Yes, you're correct about the cleanliness...they did keep the places clean. And I do recall seeing Wienerwald restaurants but, alas, never ate at one. From the list in your note, you're obviously fond of German food--with good reason. What I've had has been delicious.

      You mention Luchows. I never had the pleasure of eating there but did read an hysterical review of the place by a NY restaurant reviewer by the name of Seymour Britchky. I don't believe he's still writing but back in the 70's and 80's, he wrote a series of books that were extraordinary. His reviews were filled with great humor and more than a little sarcasm. Above, he seemed to have a real understanding of how food was supposed to taste. His review of Luchows was so funny that it brought tears to my eyes. If you're ever able to find one of his books, you'll enjoy it.

        • Total Posts: 149
        • Joined: 7/21/2003
        • Location: Plainfield, NJ
        RE: Zum Zum? Mon, 07/17/06 9:58 AM (permalink)
        Zum Zum was written up in the original Underground Gourmet, a late-60s collection of reviews for restaurants in NYC (almost all in Manhattan), in the 50 cents to 5 dollar price range. The 50 cents end may have been stretching it (maybe you could get one steamed pork bun in Chinatown for that). As a new and penniless arrival to the City in the early 70's, the book was essential to my survival.

        Anyway, I went to Zum Zum a few times, never quite understood why it was written about in the book. Although their locations were convenient for lunch and the food was OK, I always found the portions skimpy, and therefore a little overpriced.


          • Total Posts: 1
          • Joined: 7/19/2011
          • Location: Santa Barbara, CA
          Re:Zum Zum? Tue, 07/19/11 5:34 PM (permalink)
          I lived in midtown manhattan in 1968 and we used to go to ZUM ZUM every day.  The hot dogs had a snap when you bit into them and they were on the thin side.  A crisp kosher pickle and a dark beer and we were set!  What a great place it was..........

            • Total Posts: 811
            • Joined: 7/17/2004
            • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
            Re:Zum Zum? Wed, 07/20/11 10:22 AM (permalink)
            Welcome to Roadfood RinkyDink.  The snap was probably because they were natural casing.

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              • Joined: 2/21/2012
              • Location: Concord, NH
              Re:Zum Zum? Tue, 02/21/12 6:37 PM (permalink)
              I know this isn't a very active thread, but I couldn't resist posting.  I used to go to Zum Zum for lunch often when I worked on 34th St across from Macy's.  LOVED their wursts (remember, their advertising said, "We're the WURST restaurant in town").  But the piece de resistance was the Blue Max.  It was a hamburger with melted blue cheese and bacon, and it was to die for.   The one I went to was in the Empire State Building, if I remember correctly (but street level and accessed from the sidewalk I believe).  I remember seeing Weinerwald also but never ate there.  I did eat at Luchow's a couple of times and remember reading that it was basically a tourist stop eschewed by those in the know, but I really enjoyed the food there.  I'm sorry Zum Zum is no longer in business; was going to insist that my spouse and I go there next trip.  And yes, it was clean!  And the servers were mostly German.
              <message edited by Travler2 on Tue, 02/21/12 6:38 PM>

                • Total Posts: 811
                • Joined: 7/17/2004
                • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
                Re:Zum Zum? Wed, 02/22/12 5:15 PM (permalink)
                Welcome Traveler2.  I must be the moderator of this post.  Looks like Zum Zum was trademarked by Restaurant Associates and the trademark has since expired (2001).  Maybe someone will resurrect the concept. I'd love to see it come back as it was.

                  • Total Posts: 811
                  • Joined: 7/17/2004
                  • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
                  Re:Zum Zum? Wed, 02/22/12 5:57 PM (permalink)
                  More digging and I came up with this interesting wiki on Joe Baum. he was the man behind Zum Zum and a few others as well as the reincarnation of the Rainbow Room.
                  This Blondie video for 'Heart of Glass' has a cameo of a Zum Zum (next to 'Chock Full o Nuts') early in the video.
                  Wienerwald was mentioned earlier.  That was a German chain.  The following wiki has some interesting info about their venture into the US.

                    • Total Posts: 1
                    • Joined: 4/10/2013
                    • Location: Rutherford, NJ
                    Re:Zum Zum? Wed, 04/10/13 9:20 PM (permalink)
                    After months of wracking my brain for the name of that great sausage chain, it suddenly came to me: Zum-Zum. So I'm not alone in remembering it. In the 1970's I worked at 2 Broadway, and the Zum-Zum was around the corner, and I probably ate there 2 times a week.
                    As far as Joe Baum is concerned, one of his RA ventures not mentioned in the wikipedia article was a restaurant in Everglades National Park, that had some of the best seafood I ever tasted. As far as I know, it's long gone.
                    And about Seymour Britchky: he was hilarious. My copy of his book became so dog-eared and food-stained, it was almost unreadable.
                    One quote that stands out in my memory was his smack-down of Mamma Leone's:
                    So when you sit down, you are brought celery, olives, tomatoes, and a block of soap the size of half a loaf of Wonder bread, and you cut off a hunk and go to the washroom to wash before dinner, and a few old hands restrain you good-naturedly and say no, no, that's cheese, for to eat, no soap. And you say no, no, it's soap, I can tell from the taste. And they say oh no you can't, because it doesn't have any taste! And everyone has a good laugh.

                      • Total Posts: 1
                      • Joined: 5/4/2013
                      • Location: Brooklyn, NY
                      Re:Zum Zum? Sat, 05/4/13 3:50 AM (permalink)
                      There used to be a Zum Zum in Kings Plaza in Brooklyn.  I remember the cheeseburgers came with cheddar cheese by default, but you could request American cheese.  Kings Plaza also had an Eddie Arcaro's.  I used to go to Kings Plaza every Saturday and I would have lunch at several different restaurants there depending on what I felt like having.  One Friday night I had a dream about Zum Zum so I went there that Saturday.  The next week it was closed.  (!)

                        • Total Posts: 1286
                        • Joined: 11/29/2005
                        • Location: South FL
                        Re:Zum Zum? Sat, 05/4/13 9:52 AM (permalink)
                        RA had the concession for hot dogs and vending cold drinks and beer in the old Orange Bowl when it was still in the City of Miami hosting the Miami Dolphins. I remember the baby blue cups and the vendor's smocks with Zum Zum on them.

                          • Total Posts: 89
                          • Joined: 8/30/2006
                          • Location: West Babylon, NY
                          Re:Zum Zum? Sat, 05/11/13 1:01 PM (permalink)
                          I have been trying to find someone who remembers a Zum Zum on Long Island back in the 70's or early 80's. I think it was either the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa or Roosevelt Field. 
                          Anyone remember?????

                            • Total Posts: 1
                            • Joined: 10/12/2013
                            • Location: brooklyn , NY
                            Re:Zum Zum? Sat, 10/12/13 6:51 PM (permalink)
                            Not only do I remember it...I worked the one in the SI mall - with two brothers and couple of cousins and quite a few friends. Somewhere along the line we got the sign, a couple of mugs and the beer barrel that hung off the wall was ok, but the best was the lowenbrau light and dark on tap!  

                              • Total Posts: 1210
                              • Joined: 7/6/2004
                              • Location: New Milford, NJ
                              Re:Zum Zum? Mon, 10/14/13 9:26 AM (permalink)
                              Since the thread is open again, I found Zum Zum to be OK, but, compared to other equivalent selections, way overpriced. Certainly, there were probably plenty of people who found that it tasted good enough to be worth the price, but, seeing that they went out of business, probably not enough. I am surprised, though, that there is so little mention of it on the Internet.

                                • Total Posts: 1
                                • Joined: 12/2/2013
                                • Location: Bronx, NY
                                Re:Zum Zum? Mon, 12/2/13 2:31 AM (permalink)
                                Oh, Zum-Zum!, where have you gone?
                                I remember these restaurants very well, many a time I would find myself eating at the one located at Lexington Ave and approx. 59th Street in Manhattan.
                                My favorite order was the 'Blue Max', which consisted of a freshly ground hamburger topped with two slices of bacon and drizzled with a creamy Blue Cheese sauce.
                                All of their other dishes were equally delicious, hot German potato salad, knockwursts, bratwursts, hot dogs, crisp pickles, etc.....  All of which could be washed down with either a soft drink or 'Heil' or 'Dunkle' bier (dark or light beer).  I remember they would serve coffee in a rather knobby looking mug.
                                When they first opened up they only hired a German speaking staff.  This caused them to run a-foul of the 'ACLU', who later forced them to hire other ethnic groups.
                                This action must have really knocked the wind out of their sails, as the restaurant chain only lasted maybe three or four more years.

                                  • Total Posts: 2163
                                  • Joined: 8/1/2004
                                  • Location: New York, NY
                                  Re:Zum Zum? Sat, 12/7/13 11:44 PM (permalink)
                                  Zum Zum opened about 1964. New York still saw blue collar immigrants from Germany back then. Gosh, that is almost 50 years ago. Restaurant Associates promoted their concepts well, and there are probably plenty of stories about Zum Zum in the archives in the New York newspapers and the Associated Press.
                                  I found this article by critic Gael Greene online, which I remember reading in New York magazine when it originally appeared in 1970:
                                  She talks about Restaurant Associates at the top of the article and about Zum Zum at the bottom of the article. It may give some insights about the chain. Also see this interesting photo of Zum Zum branding:
                                  Of course, rising rents and wages in Manhattan helped put an end to restaurant concepts like Zum Zum.

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                                    • Joined: 2/4/2004
                                    • Location: scotch plains, NJ
                                    Re:Zum Zum? Sun, 12/8/13 4:46 PM (permalink)
                                    David, thanks for the link to the Gael Greene article. I did eat at Zum Zum a few times back in the day, but I certainly did not recall that they offered 29 (!) different varieties of wursts. That would be quite ambitious even by today's standards of 50 diffferent taps, 50 different toppings, 50 different dips, etc.
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