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Well-known restaurateur Mel Krupin receives Certificate of Recognition

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May 12th, 2016
Retired restaurateur and Riderwood resident Mel Krupin (right)

Retired restaurateur and Riderwood resident Mel Krupin (right) receives a Certificate of Recognition from Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (center), whose father also lives at Riderwood, in Silver Spring, Md. On the left is Mel’s wife Gloria.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot recently honored Mel Krupin, one of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic restaurateurs. A few months ago, Franchot presented Mel with a Certificate of Recognition, reading:

“In recognition of your status as a “True Icon” and one of the most famous restaurateurs of the past in the greater Washington, D.C., area. With special appreciation for your long-time commitment to building a better community through your charitable efforts and your time spent hosting and working with developmentally disabled adults at your restaurants, best wishes for many more years of health, happiness, and fond memories.”

Mel became a household name in Washington as manager of Duke Zeibert’s, a well-known restaurant where movers and shakers would come to see and be seen. He seated Supreme Court justices, traded jokes with U.S. senators, and got to know two legends of the National Football League, Vince Lombardi and George Allen, during their respective tenures as head coach of the Washington Redskins. 

“These folks came to be seen at Duke’s,” Mel says. “We had world-class food and ambience, but making them feel welcome was the key. In due time, I knew everyone’s seating preferences, who their friends were, and what they liked to drink. I was in my element, and that’s what made it an amazing experience.”

From Duke Zeibert’s to Krupin’s

Mel went on to open his own restaurant, the famous Krupin’s in Tenleytown. He served steaks, chops, and a variety of traditional Jewish deli fare at his new restaurant. 

Krupin’s attracted the same kind of high-profile customers that used to eat at Duke Zeibert’s. Mel says Hillary Clinton and Ted Koppel were among the public figures who dined at his restaurant. 

Mel’s wife Gloria says she would work as a hostess at Krupin’s on the weekends, and the couple remembers that period as a proud and happy time in their lives. 

“A whole new life opened up for us when we moved here,” Gloria says of her and her husband’s early years in Washington, D.C. 

Squaring off

When Mel first opened his eponymous restaurant, he had taken many of the waiters from Duke Zeibert’s with him. Three years after closing Duke’s, restaurateur Duke Zeibert decided to reopen. Duke hired away 28 of Mel’s employees, launching what came to be known as the “matzoh ball wars” between the two Connecticut Avenue restaurants. 

Krupin’s made the Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list, Mel recalls proudly. 

Another accolade that Mel got a kick out of was when his restaurant was featured on prime-time television. The restaurant was on The West Wing, Mel says. On the show, someone brought the president a sandwich from Krupin’s. 

Mel decided to sell Krupin’s in 1988. He stayed on as a consultant for a few years. The restaurant was later renamed Morty’s, for Mel’s brother who managed it after Mel sold it. The beloved and well-known restaurant eventually closed in 1999.

“Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s, there is no way I could ever have imagined my life’s direction,” Mel says. “Family and career have been my true blessings.”