If you find yourself hungry in Manhattan, odds are good that you will make your way to one of the many food establishments owned and run by a member of the Zabar family, best known for their iconic grocery store specializing in smoked fish and other Jewish delicacies. Well, as of April 26, you can add a new list of restaurants and culinary shops overseen by a Zabar. That’s because Marguerite Zabar Mariscal, great-granddaughter of the Jewish grocery’s founder, has been named the first ever CEO of the burgeoning Momofuku restaurant group.
While Mariscal has been working with David Chang, the chef and founder of Momofuku, since shortly after her graduation from college in 2011, in her new role she will manage a team of 40 and oversee Momofuku Restaurant empire’s expansion and brand growth, both in New York and beyond. Momofuku restaurant group, which was launched with Momofuku Noodle Bar, comprises 14 locations in the United States, Australia, and Canada — most of which offer innovative, Asian cuisine — as well as Peach Mart, an Asian convenience market. She will be overseeing their consumer-packaged goods, too.
Mariscal is the granddaughter of Stanley Zabar, the vice-president and co-owner of Zabar’s, which started its life in 1934 on the corner of 80th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. From the start, Zabar’s was known as a haven for high quality and fairly priced smoked fish. It has since morphed into a culinary oasis whose owners, brothers Stanley and Saul, pride themselves on constantly searching for the new and wonderful. A third brother, Eli, has his own food empire on the east side of Manhattan that includes gourmet food shops, restaurants, and a line of breads that are sold by the Zabar brothers on both sides of town.
While in college, Mariscal studied English and history, but she jumped into the world of food upon graduation. She spent a summer managing the Amagansett Farmers Market on Long Island’s east end, which was run at the time by her great uncle, Eli Zabar. She then landed an internship in public relations at Momofuku. Since then, she has managed social media, communications, and design for David Chang. Chang told Forbes that Mariscal has a heightened understanding of the Momofuku brand, and she knows how to translate and channel his plans to the company’s employees better than he can. She was quoted in Forbes in 2018 as saying, “I speak fluent Dave.“
Clearly, her family is proud of her success. On a section of the Zabar’s website called “Zabar’s Creative Family,” you can find a photo of Mariscal seated at a Momofuku restaurant, Momofuku Ssam Bar, an eatery known more for its pork than for its smoked salmon. She is surrounded by her parents and grandparents in a multi-generational embrace.
It’s clear Zabar’s core principles of respecting the customer, focusing on quality, offering fair value, and welcoming the new and wonderful have not been lost on the Zabar family’s youngest generation.