The year was 1932, and the country was floundering in the depths of the depression. But on Gedney Way, then only a dirt lane in White Plains, optimism prevailed. Sam Eisenstein, the 23-year-old son of a Russian immigrant, with a $300 stake and a barrel of faith, opened his newsstand and soda fountain. Situated near the old Westchester & Boston Railroad Station, the business proved to be a popular spot with the local commuters, not only for the morning coffee and news, but also for all-day congeniality and the 10-cent beer that flowed from the center spigot of Sam’s fountain.
When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Sam applied for and received one of the first three liquor licenses granted in Westchester County. Things were tough for everyone in those days, but Sam continued to serve his hamburger with coffee for 15 cents, a 25 cent lunch (which included pie), whiskey for 35 cents and, of course, beer. Later on his sister Dora and brother Joe joined Sam. Sam, described as “a wonderful guy, hard working, gracious, friendly,” represented the epitome of saloonkeepers and restaurateurs. As a tribute to those qualities, one day in 1934, his patrons elected him “Mayor of Gedney Way.” The appellation stuck, and eventually became attached to the restaurant’s image, even continued after the move in 1968 to the present location.