Sol Kaplan

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Sol Kaplan

Sol Kaplan
Born 1908
Kopatkevich, Belarus
Died May 2, 2001
Cause of death Heart Attack
Nationality American
Occupation Deli Owner
Employer Self
Home town Englewood
Known for Famous Deli
Religious beliefs Jewish
Spouse(s) Ruth (d. 1971); Frances Silverman (m. 1974)
Children Barry; Francine and Helen

Sol Kaplan was one of the four founders of the legendary "Sol & Sols" Jewish deli, which began on the north side of W. Palisade ave, near the monument, and eventually was re-incarnated at the top of the business section on east Pal, in the building once occupied by the Skouras Englewood theatre. [1]The other founders were Sol Stein, Benjamin Rappaport, and Sam Plotkin. Together 1n 1951, they built a kosher deli and catering business that became so famous it made it into the script of a `M*A*S*H' episode on televison.

The secret of success for Sol & Sol lay in its recipes for chopped liver, matzoh ball soup, and gefilte fish. Mr. Kaplan had brought the recipes from his native Russia, where he had nearly starved to death as a child. [1]

The deli became famous for its flavors and attracted its share of celebrities, among them Dizzy Gillespie, the great jazz trumpeter and composer who lived in Englewood, and the actor Alan Alda, who played Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce on the TV show "M*A*S*H." [1]

In one episode, Hawkeye, wounded by shrapnel, became delirious and rhapsodized about the succulent corned beef Mr. Kaplan cured in the back room at Sol & Sol. Hawkeye thought he had died and gone to heaven. [1]

Mr. Kaplan loved good food because he knew what it was to have none. [1]

He was born in 1908 in Belarus. His earliest memories were of a war that had torn the country apart -- and the starvation that followed. [1]

In 1921, Cossacks slaughtered dozens of people in his native village of Kopatkewich. Mr. Kaplan survived the pogrom by hiding in a field of rye. [1]

"Death was always waiting for us. Nothing was sure," Mr. Kaplan said in an interview with The Record in January. [1]

With his mother, brother, and two half-sisters, he fled to America aboard a steamship from Poland and arrived in New York at Ellis Island on Oct. 29, 1922. A bout with tuberculosis cost him a lung when he was 16, but it never took his spirit. [1]

He learned the food trade at a series of stores in New York City. Following World War II he moved his family to Englewood and shortly thereafter opened Sol & Sol. [1]

While running Sol & Sol, Mr. Kaplan became a member, and President of the Englewood Volunteer Ambulance Corps and was also active in Temple Emanu-el in Englewood. [1]

He sold his interest in Sol & Sol in 1971, emotionally drained after his first wife, Ruth, died of Cancer. Mr. Kaplan said it was the "darkest period of my life," and he filled the emptiness by riding with the ambulance corps day and night. [1]

Mr. Kaplan eventually emerged from depression and married Frances Silverman in 1974. She worked next door to Sol & Sol at the Bergen Pharmacy -- as did her husband, Sam, before his death of a heart attack. [1]

Mr. Kaplan eventually found a second career at age 86. A member of Temple Emanu-el owned an office building in New York City and needed a doorman. [1]

Mr. Kaplan said that with all his stories, he would be perfect for the job. [1]

Mr. Kaplan worked at the office building at 24 W. 40th St. in Manhattan until he fell ill this year. [1]

Sol & Sol was then run by one of the original partners' sons, Howard Plotkin. [1] until they moved it first to Fort Lee, and then back to East Palisade Ave, where it eventually closed in 2003 under ownership of Larry Geller. Two families, the Gellers and the Katzes, bought the store in 2003, Geller said in a 2003 interview in the Record. Members of both families were avid customers.

The deli was crowded with customers on the Thursday after his passing, when Plotkin took a moment to pay tribute to the man who spent thousands of lunch hours working the counter. [1]

"He was a good teacher and a gentle man," Plotkin said amid the bustle of the lunch crowd Thursday. "He spread a lot of goodwill in his lifetime." [1]


Mr. Kaplan's survivors include his wife, Frances; a son, Barry of Englewood, Colo.; two daughters, Francine Rosenberg of Cresskill and Helene Rubin of Randolph; seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. [1]