Was the Reuben Sandwich invented in Omaha?

According to Omaha lore, the Reuben Sandwich was dreamed up at Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel in 1925 by Reuben Kulakofsky, a local grocer, to feed a group of late-night poker players. Charles Schimmel, one of the players and the hotel’s owner, liked it so much he put it on the menu of The Plush Horse, the hotel restaurant. A competing claim comes from the family of Arnold Reuben, who owned a series of New York City restaurants. Although there is evidence that a sandwich similar to the classic Reuben was served at Arnold Reuben’s restaurants, only family stories substantiate his claim to THE Reuben Sandwich.

Golden Spur menu (loaned from Douglas County Historical Society)

Golden Spur menu (loaned from Douglas County Historical Society)

This mid-1940s menu from The Plush Horse restaurant clearly lists the Reuben Sandwich. Newspaper accounts report that a 1937 menu from the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln is the first written evidence of the Reuben’s existence. At that time, the Schimmel family also owned the Cornhusker Hotel. 

(images courtesy of Douglas County Historical Society, Omaha)

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