Arthur “Art” Rabin, known to friends as the “Jewish Cowboy,” died of a heart attack on Aug. 31, only days after his retirement party at Liebman’s Delicatessen.
The 64-year-old manager at Liebman’s Delicatessen, located at 552 W. 235th St., spent most of his life in the restaurant business. Mr. Rabin was the owner of the 7A Café in the West Village and had a stint in Brookline, Massachusetts, just south of Boston, at Breugger’s Bagels.
“He had quite an extensive food managing experience in his time,” said Liebman’s owner Yuval Dekel. “He mentioned to me this was the longest place he had ever worked for.”
Mr. Rabin spent his last nine years working at Liebman’s after a short stint at Second Helping on Johnson Avenue and Skyview Deli before it closed. Mr. Dekel said his manager always enjoyed working at Liebman’s.
“I lost my father, that’s how I got into this business was losing my father and taking over the deli,” he said. “When [Mr. Rabin] came in a few years later, he was kind of like a mentor to me, business-wise but also personally.”
Mr. Rabin, though, had one, true love: horses.
“That’s what he was planning to do just now,” Mr. Dekel said. “He actually quit here about a month ago, and gave me his notice and he left on good terms. I was actually really happy for him.”
Mr. Rabin had spent the last year working part-time at the Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, Pennsylvania and was preparing to move and work there full-time in his quasi-retirement.
In a New York Times article about Liebman’s in 2014, Mr. Rabin said he liked to be referred to as the “Jewish Cowboy” for his love of, not just horses, but country life, music and culture.
In addition to his part-time work at Malibu Dude Ranch, Mr. Rabin also tended the stables at Van Cortlandt Park and acted as a park ranger in the past.
News of Mr. Rabin’s passing came as a shock to Angela Giuliano, who works at Malibu Dude Ranch’s front desk.
“It was a heartbreak. We’re still heartbroken,” she said. “He started coming here about two years ago as a guest and then started working here part-time.”
Ms. Giuliano said she had many fond memories of Mr. Rabin, who cooked for everyone on the ranch.
“He would come in with breakfast, lunch and dinner for everybody and he was always so happy all the time,” she said.
According to Ms. Giuliano, Mr. Rabin was supposed to move to the ranch on the same day he was found in his home.
“I was on my day off and I called him to see if he needed help moving to the ranch, and I came to work on Sept. 1, and I found out the was dead,” said Akan Barutcu, one of Mr. Rabin’s co-workers at the deli.
Mr. Rabin was found dead in his home only four days after a retirement party at Liebman’s.
Customers and Liebman’s staff said they were still coping with the loss. “You know, everybody here was so sad, the whole staff was silent for a week after they found out,” Mr. Dekel said. “It was sad to hear that he would be able to fulfill this dream of his final destination.”
Mr. Dekel and some of his family members plan to travel to Malibu Dude Ranch to spread Mr. Rabin’s ashes there.
“You, know we spoke at length about this, and he always wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread where horses roam,” Mr. Dekel said. “He would always talk about Martha’s Vineyard or some place like that and I would always joke, ‘Well is Van Cortlandt okay?’ But of course I can’t do that.”