By Rachel Holliday Smith – DNAInfo.com
When it came down to it, Brooklynites chose fresh fish over famous cheesecake.
In DNAinfo New York’s Brooklyn Brackets series, fans of a Crown Heights kosher fish market — Raskin’s — beat out cheesecake powerhouse Junior’s for the title of best neighborhood institution in the borough.
More than 250,000 votes were cast in the competition, which included Brooklyn favorites like Grimaldi’s Pizza, David’s Brisket, the Park Slope Food Coop and Tom’s Restaurant.
But Raskin’s Fish Market held through in four rounds, taking the top spot last week with 54 percent of the vote in the final round against Junior’s.
The owners of the shop attributed the win to loyal customers in the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish community of Crown Heights, said Shlomo Raskin, whose father, Scholom Raskin, opened the Kingston Avenue store in 1961, blocks from the Chabad headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway.
“Rabbis, they’re all coming here … for various meetings, conferences and all that. A lot of them grew up here. A lot of them have family here,” he said from behind the fish counter on Thursday as customers filed in and out of the busy shop, ordering fish for Passover.
Friends voted from Australia, Israel and South Africa, he said.
“This is a center for 4,000 Chabad locations around the world.”
As he spoke, a rabbi from Seattle interjected. “Raskin’s is the best!” Minutes later, a rabbi from western Massachusetts congratulated the Raskins on their win.
To spread the word about the Brooklyn Brackets competition, Shlomo’s wife Chaya recorded a campaign video voiced by the couple’s daughters, he said, and posted it to the store’s Facebook page.
In the 40-second clip, the girls giggle as they describe how to vote “again and again and again” for the shop as the senior Raskin reminds viewers, “Please make sure to vote!”
The video received more than 3,200 views.
“The people we met on the street, they all got into it,” the younger Raskin said. “They were like, ‘We’re voting, we’re voting.’ ‘My kids are voting,’ you know. And it became a thing. It was really cute.”
Since it opened, Raskin’s has expanded to three supermarkets — two in Brooklyn and one in Long Island — and created a line of pre-packaged prepared fish. But through the changes, the Kingston Avenue store has remained exactly the same, even keeping its original sign with its pre-area code telephone exchange.
“This is old-fashioned. It hasn’t changed for 50 years,” Raskin said.
Raskin’s Fish Market is located at 320 Kingston Ave. in Brooklyn.