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NYC Restaurants Give New Life to Old Seltzer Delivery Tradition

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Like all hipster success stories, what’s old is new again

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Brooklyn Seltzer Boys Brooklyn Seltzer Boys/Facebook

It’s always heartwarming to hear instances of old New York staying alive, as evidenced by today’s New York Times spotlight on Brooklyn’s oldest seltzer delivery man passing the spritz to the youngest. Eli Miller, 84, has officially retired after 60 years on his beloved Brooklyn seltzer delivery route, and rather than let the tradition die, he has sold his route to the youngest deliveryman, 29-year-old Alex Gomberg, in a full circle-of-life move.

The oldest and the youngest working seltzer men around! #elimiller #alexgomberg #brooklynseltzerboys

‎Posted by Brooklyn Seltzer Boys on‎ שישי 3 יוני 2016

Seltzer delivery is an expensive habit, and in the age of social media-popular La Croix, a seemingly unfashionable one, too. But Gomberg is working to change that with his Brooklyn Seltzer Boys company, a delivery offshoot of his family’s Gomberg Seltzer Works in Canarsie. Gomberg is adding Miller’s 80 customers to his 300 — along with 2,000 of Miller’s valuable antique handblown seltzer bottles.

Gomberg tagged along on Miller’s route in recent weeks to get to know his customers, who pay $40 for a 10-bottle case. Some have decided not to renew with Gomberg, citing the reason they paid for the service as Miller himself — “Eli was the product,” one said. And it’s true in more ways than one, as Miller is the subject of children’s book, The Seltzer Man, written by one of his customers.

To ease the transition to the more modern service — which includes paying with credit cards and an online presence — Gomberg will use Miller’s older cases rather than his newer ones. But Gomberg is doing his best to not let this outdated tradition die, abandoning his degree in higher education to continue the family business that his grandfather started in 1953. He’s not only delivering to individuals, but also to restaurants like Dutch Kills in Long Island City and Arlington Club on the Upper East Side, where seltzer from a local company can be a selling point.

The full story is here, and well worth a read.