A Day in the Life of Restaurant Owner Maya Janekelowitz

The Jack’s Wife Freda owner, along with her husband Dean, is always on the go—and rarely has a moment to stop and eat.

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New York restaurateur Maya Janekelowitz is on her feet all day long. The Israeli mother of two boys met her South African husband Dean when the two worked at Balthazar restaurant in SoHo. The downtown couple has been married for 12 years and are in the midst of moving to a new home in the West Village, near the second outpost of their beloved all-day restaurant Jack’s Wife Freda (its original location is on Lafayette near Spring Street), where everyone, truly, knows each other’s name. Maya and Dean have written a cookbook (alongside their original chef Julia Jaksic), which is out today, titled Jack’s Wife Freda: Cooking From New York’s West Village (Blue Rider Press) featuring all their recipes past and present.

Behind the Scenes of NYC's Jacks Wife Freda with Maya Janekelowitz

Here’s how Jankelowitz spends a typical day:

6:30 A.M.

“Wake up our two boys and get them ready for school. We’re not big breakfast people, but the kids usually have some yogurt and fruit before we go.”

7:40 A.M.

“Dean and I drop kids off at school and usually go to the Carmine Street location first. Then, later on, Lafayette Street. I eat whenever I’m here, and Dean and I always have our tea drink on hand (black tea with fresh mint, no milk—sometimes we switch it up and have chamomile tea). We know exactly what we need to tackle starting at 5 a.m. when we get the manager’s report. There’s always something: a broken espresso machine or a dishwasher who hasn’t shown up. It’s all unglamorous behind the scenes, back of the house stuff type stuff.”

10:00 A.M.

“In a perfect world, I’d fit in a yoga class at Yoga Shanti on West 24th Street. Then, I run straight back to work; at that point, Dean may have gone over to Lafayette Street. I love being on the floor and greeting customers and regulars at the door. If it’s quiet, I might eat breakfast. I love our eggs Benedict, rosewater waffles, green shakshuka, and Mediterranean breakfast but usually a smaller portion of these or just a bite (if I’m lucky). Most of the time, it’s too busy.”

2:00 P.M.

“More than 50 percent of the time, I realized I haven’t eaten anything yet that day. I eat the mistakes from the kitchen and pick at things. Ideally, if I had time, I would eat a burger with avocado (sometimes no bun). I’ll eat any dish on the menu but the eggplant.”

3:00 P.M.

“Dean and I trade off picking up the boys up from school nearby. If they don’t have after-school activities, they usually come to the Carmine Street restaurant, sit at the bar, and have French fries (their favorite).”

6:00 P.M.

“Nights at home are more special for me. We order dinner on Caviar from the Carmine Street restaurant. The boys like the burgers and the kids’ menu. They’re picky eaters, but they love our schnitzel. I usually get a veggie curry bowl over couscous (we change the curries up frequently) or a nice hearty stew. I also love the Peri-Peri chicken.”

8:00 P.M

“The boys go to bed. Dean and I have some time together before we pass out. Running a restaurant is like a Broadway production, and it starts all over the next day!”