Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bohacks the Official Story

Richard Bohack, a descendant of the founder of the large New York grocery store that was in business for 90 years and went under in 1977, commented on my post from earlier this week about Bohack's. Seeing a photo of Bohack's made both me and Eve shout "Bohack" out of the blue. It was a store I hadn't thought of since I was a child. I hadn't realized how large it was, what with us being Waldbaum's and King Kullen folk.

Here is what Richard Bohack had to say:
Hi, this is Richard Bohack. I'm the great-grandnephew of Bohack's founder, H.C. Bohack. My father was one of the last employees remaining before Bohack closed its doors for good in the Summer of 1977 (Son of Sam and Elvis' Death took Bohack's End out of the headlines). Many of you have your facts in order (except for the Daitch Shopwell theory ... it was actually the opposite).
The first store was on Fulton St. in Brooklyn ... it opened in 1887. H.C Bohack bought the store where he worked ... after just one year. After H.C. Bohack died in 1931, Bohack was owned by his wife, 4 nephews and 8 friends (who were H.C.'s right-hand-guys from nearly the beginning). One of those nephews was my grandfather, Paul G.A. Bohack, Sr. My Dad, Robert H.C. Bohack, Sr. and his brother, Paul G.A. Bohack, Jr. and some of their cousins were quite involved. In 1965, the "heirs" decided to retire and "Go Public" with the company's equity. Charles Bluedorn, Gulf & Western's Chariman (Gulf Oil, Paramount Pictures, etc ...) became the majority share holder. Bluedorn's regime ousted almost everone who didn't retire, incuding all Bohack family memebers ... except for my father (Robert H.C. Bohack, Sr.) My dad (who is still alive and kickin' at 78-yrs-old) ran HR ... including Personnel, Labor Relations and even Benefits (Primarily a Labor Relations Executive ... since many union workers were employed). Throughout the 1960's, Bohack perchased Daitch Shopwell, Packers and a few other supermarket businesses. From Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, they expanded into Manhattan and the Bronx. Since Paramount Pictures was "family", they used an Upper West Side Bohack store for the Odd Couple Movie with Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau. Bohack survived the Great Depression and other hard times in the late 1800's and early 1900's. But the recession of the 1970's was too much. Bohack tried to buy-up and built (a huge risk that could've worked) while everyone else was selling and slowing down. They quickly opened stores in Westchester and Fairfield Counties that didn't last at all ... some closed in a month! The risk didn't work. Bohack went through various stages of Bankruptcy and eventually folded. It was July 13, 1977 and I was 13-yrs-old ... I remember it like it was yesterday.
Since the company folded, it wasn't actually taken-over by any one company. Various companies bought owed-properties and stores, as well leased-stores. Bohack Square (where my parents met in 1959 when my Mom, a Maspeth native, was an intern in their offices) was sold in pieces. One note, my brother, Robert H.C. Bohack, Jr. turned 16-yrs-old in May of 1977. He became legal to work for Bohack and got a job in their Metropolitan Ave store in Forest Hills. He worked for Bohack for about 6 weeks. Many cousins and 2nd cousins on my Dad's side ... as well as relatives on my Mom's side worked for Bohack ... it was a right of passage that I never experienced.

33 comments:

Melanie said...

I remember Bohack in Brooklyn in Park Slope way back in the day. That is where my Grandma shopped.

gc said...

My grandmother used to always talk about shopping at Bohack's when I was a kid. By the time I was old enough to notice they had closed yet if she needed something she would say we gotta go to Bohack's; this was the 1980's. We are from Bushwick Brooklyn.

Big G Rog said...

I started my career in the Bohack on Jamaica Ave in Richmond Hill,NY in 1961 (16yrs old) as a P/T stock clerk, & was fired in 2 weeks. Since I was shorted 2hrs pay my mother contacted Bohack Square and the Distrct Manager came to my house with an envelope for 2 hrs pay and said I could return to work ASAP. When I restarted (my manager (Bill) wasn't fond of my going over his head, so he assigned me to the produce manager (Joe Fusco) where I worked thru HS then left to a banking career & the US Navy. I remember Annie Rocco (cashier) would drive me part way home down Jamaica Ave.I still remember my ONLY order that I rang up on the register, it was for $1.68, then Bill told the clerk who let me on the register to 'never put him on the register again'. Ah yes very fond memories that I recount every so often at home and my wife and kids get a kick every time I mention Bohack's, Bohack's, Bohacks, they think my childhood is catching up with me. My first love was thru Bohack too, but unfortunately not the final love of my life.

Anonymous said...

Robert Bohack, Sr hired me in my first job. That was 1966 and I was 18 years old. Bob, thank you for the confidence that your action expressed in me. I am retired now and I wish you well. I too spent my life in personnel.

Anonymous said...

My mom shopped at the Bohack's in Sheepshead Bay from the 50's -70's. In 1970 she won 1000 dollars in one of their promotional games. A fair bit of money back then.

donna tapiro deaveiro said...

One of my first memories of my dads workplace was a tiny Bohacks store located inside the Ave H train station (bmt line) on the southbound side in Brooklyn. Everyone I've told this to says im crazy! That it had to be outside the station. Even as a small child i thought it was weird to have a store inside the subway station.This was around 1957 to maybe 1960. Plz Bohacks ancestors can someone verify im not imagining these memories?

Harry Fiumaro said...

Donna:

I remember your father, Gene, as the meat manager. He married a girl named Anne. The store that you mentioned was built over the subway at Ave H. The store was built using the "air rights" over the subway notin it.

I worked at that store for a short period of time and my father had been the store manager at the store they closed to open this one. That store was at 1520 Flatbush Ave at Glenwood Road.

Also Bohack never bought Daitch but used them for awhile as a supplier of groceries. Daitch was bought by the A & P some years later.

Harry Fiumaro

Neal C. said...

My very first job, at 16, was in a Bohack"s store in Malverne L.I.. There are a lot a good memories of times with co-workers. Remember Gus the manager, and Pete his cranky assistant.

Anonymous said...

H.C.Bohack grocery pioneered today's superstore supermarket with the introduction of it's 'Village' stores in the mid '70s. There was one in Mattituck NY, one in South Huntington NY and one in Garden City Park NY. They featured in-store bakery, separate 'butcher' meat counter, fish counters and aisles of sundry items that were not common fare for groceries to carry- like small appliances, stationary, etc. But, these stores came too late to help Bohack recoup from the '70s recession.I worked for Bohacks mostly part-time for 7 years before it closed.

Anonymous said...

when I turned 16 I got a job at Bohacks on Cortelyou and Marlborough
road in Brooklyn. It sat on the corner and was a busy store. The
manager for the few years I worked as a checker was Joe (I can't
remember his last name) It was a nice store and they worked with my
school hours. I was the only girl in the store except for a lady
that worked in the meat dept. This was in the mid 60's.....nice
memories I my time spent there.

Unknown said...

I have some old family tree things and came across an obituary for my Great great grandfather - he was apparently on the Board of Directors for HC Bohack in the 20's and 30's!

moonraker said...

what is with Bohack Court Sayville? Anything to do with the store?

Unknown said...

My dad was dairy manager for the Bohack store on 56 st and 8 ave in Brooklyn. Those days everyone in the store knew everbody in the neighbohood. Different era.

Shar said...

I remember the Bohack store in the Hewitt shopping center in East Northport, LI, NY where I grew up. I was 14 when it went out of business. I was just sitting with my parents and my aunt talking about whatever happened to Bohack and I found this entry. Hoping you're doing well.

Unknown said...

Vito Porpora
I remember working at the maim office on Metropolitan AVE.
I worked in the engineering department on the plans of The Village stores.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Bohack 2227 On Flatbush Avenue near the Phillip Howard Apartments it was a great job which lead to me becoming a Local 3 Electrician I will never forget that place . Tony Scutari

Unknown said...

I. Rem that was the first store I was ever in on flat bush & Glenn Rd. Next to train tracks, man l loved being in that bohacks, wish was still around. Loved Bohacks!!!!!!!!!

paula mcwhirter-buck said...

my grandfather, hans funk, was manager of bohacks in the....20's?/30's?.
i'm thinking sheepshead bay (which is where my mother was born in 1925).
i'm searching for photos I know are in my collection of the inside of the store. and another of him driving a company car with the name on the door.

NJ SUX ASS said...

Bohacks used to be on the corner of Montauk Hwy and Railroad in Sayville..maybe they named Vohack Court afterit for the fond memories. I know I have alot. Bohacks is not where the court is...looking at google maps its a block or so. There was a carvel next door to it. If you took the back alley it was called the jungle..where kids would drink and get high on weed. My grandmother would walk with me...she was a tough woman from Czechoslovakia.

NurseSofia said...

Great story! I grew up in Manhasset 1967 thru the 80’s-we had a Bohacks but I can’t remember if it was on the Miracle Mile or on Plandome road. My folks purchased their house from the Clark family & mom said Mr. Clark was affiliated w/Bohack’s. Would love picture or any more info. Really enjoyed this story. My dad was good friends w/the Balducci food family...a whole different story w/some drama too.

tlim said...

The Bohacks in Manhasset in the late 1960s to 1977 was on Plandome Road. I'd go there when I was a kid and get a half-sour pickle from the pickle barrels there for a nickel.

Anonymous said...

Was that the one on Ave Z and Coney Island Avenue across from PS 209?

Unknown said...

I worked for them for 5 years.Great caring people.Ira Waldbaum,David Karen,Aaron Friedman,All of the Leffels,Shelly Levine , Julia Waldbaum,wonderful people.God bless them all๐Ÿ˜Ž

The Wild Turkey said...

Never heard of them but I googled the name after seeing the storefront in the theatrical release of The Odd Couple as Jack Lemmon was shopping. Was that an actual store & filmed on location?

Anonymous said...

My very first job in high school was at the Bohack’s on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale - around 1968. If I tried real hard I might come up with the manager’s name. I remember getting my first pay check ( something around $20.00), which the manager handed to me from the raised ‘office’ booth near the store’s entrance.

I remember working at the register - way before moving belts and price scanners! You had to pull the customer’s items towards you with a wooden frame, and put in the prices along with their food category in the register’s keys. There was a very old woman “Hazel” who had been working there for many years and knew the prices of almost all the items by heart.

No help calculating the correct change either!

Anonymous said...

My first job was at Bohacks in Stony Brook from 1968-1971. I have many fond memories. I also worked the night shift at their Village store in Sayville.

Unknown said...

I worked at Bohack on Eliot Ave and 80th street in Middle Village for 2 years in 1966. Was 16 at the time. Spent 2 years there. Howie Tart was the Manager. Loved working for a great company. Then went for Front End management in Great Neck and ultimately to Forest Hills on Metropolitan Ave. Everyone was great.
Finally left and spent the rest of my career in broadcasting and now running radio stations in Florida. Thank you Bohack for great memories.

Unknown said...

What was the addres of the first store

Unknown said...

What was the address of the location or locations of the Bronx stores?

Anonymous said...

I remember the Bohacks'on Livingston Street in downtown Brooklyn. My parents owned a business on the same street from 1967 to 2000.

Unknown said...

As a kid in the early to mid 60's my father was a good friend with Ken Rojak (Rojek?), a butcher at one of the South Nassau County Bohack stores on Long Island. My dad had a contract with 3 of 4 Bohack stores in our area plowing snow from their parking lots. I remember one night, after a bizzard, going with him to plow all night so that they and other businesses could be open that next day. As an 8 or 9 year old kid what I remember most was when my dad pushed snow out to the end of the lot with his 1962 Willies Jeep and then backed up the plow the next section the odometer on his truck went backwards. Strange the things we remeber! That and the mental picture of the Bohack storefronts are indelibly etched in my memories of childhood! Richard Durand

Ellen Jinks Walters said...

I used to go to Bohacks in Kings Park with my Mom when I was a kid. The memory that sticks in my head is the wooden floors and the fruit bin displays. I haven't lived or been back to Kings Park in many years...I always wondered whatever happened, if Bohacks was still there or morphed into something else as thing s do when we get older.

Unknown said...

I used to go to the bohacks on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck with my grandmother. The smells as you walk in the bohacks with Incredible... as you enter the front door on the left there was a bakery which was baking fresh bread every day and the smell was incredible... followed by the coffee grinding machine that also had the same odiferous emanation. When I got to the produce department by grandmother would always walk over to the green beans and grab a fresh One Snap the ends off and break it in half and we would each share and eat one of the green beans... which by today's standards would probably be shoplifting but it was sort of accepted part of life back in those days. Now that I'm in my seventies I think back about how great that store was and how the
not-so-great the big box stores are now! From my point of view the years 1945 to the nearest 1965 where the bestest country ever saw.๐Ÿ˜ŽJR