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Food & Drink

Best New Owner of an Old Bar 

Bob Clarke, Zam Zam

The Persian aub Zam Zam opened in 1941, but Bruno Mooshei didn't own the tiny, gemlike bar until the late '60s. "Bruno is still much on people's minds," says current owner Bob Clarke, who took over in 1999, a year before Mooshei died. "He's remembered fondly by some, not so fondly by others." Clarke befriended Mooshei, who was famous for throwing people out of his gorgeous little place. "You'll have to leave. I'm sorry. Tables are closed," was the refrain heard by thousands, possibly millions, over the years. "I guess a lot of people would come in just to push his buttons. Most of the time, he was happy to oblige," Clarke explains dryly. He and co-owner Diane Epping haven't changed much about the place, especially the other thing Bruno was famous for: the best martinis in town. Along with keeping the Jon Oshanna-designed joint looking the same, Clarke and Epping have retained the tradition of the 1,000-1 ratio of gin to vermouth. The tables, however, are open.


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