b. 1947, lived in Santa Ana
Owner of Benjie’s Delicatessen in Santa Ana
My mom and dad followed my maternal grandparents from Brooklyn to California. My grandmother had four brothers. One was in the shmatte [clothing] trade. My dad got hired as a cutter and hated every minute of it. He saved $10,000 and put it into Richie’s drive-in restaurant in Garden Grove. It was the kind of place where they hang the tray on the window, and the girls wore roller skates. I worked there when I was a child. I was probably 9 or 10. There were all these beekeepers [near Richie’s]. I’ll never forget the bees would come in and they would collect on the root beer. I remember swatting them. The health department wouldn’t allow it today. Anyway, then Dad built a family dining restaurant. I still use the same recipes today [at Benjie’s]. For all [my childhood] I remember I was a latchkey kid. My mom would drive up about 5 and pick me and my brother up at home and take us to the restaurant. We would sit in the back corner booth and eat dinner there every night.