Sidney ‘Sheppy’ Berg, founder of popular kosher eatery in Merrick

Sidney “Sheppy” Berg, whose passion for Jewish food began with his eponymous kosher eatery, passed away earlier this month. He was 95.

Berg, who got the nickname “Sheppy” from his childhood friends and never went anywhere, died on April 9 of natural causes. Berg, who grew up in East New York, Brooklyn, left the borough for Merrick — “the country” — when he was young, said Merrick’s granddaughter Robin Cooper. In the year In 1970, he opened Sheppin’s, a deli and caterer that closed in 2006.

Food was Berg’s inspiration. At Chef’s, diners can load up on offerings including egg salad, bagels and lox, chopped liver (even a vegetarian version), Southern fried chicken, latkes, sandwiches and franks. The food was a staple at events, his family said.

“He loved it and it was his life,” said his daughter Terri Cooper of Merrick. “The dish we made or the food we cooked or the recipe did not have to be tasted before it was allowed to be sent.

After Berg’s death, former customers shared stories of seeing Sheppin’s familiar logo on the dining table during gatherings, Terry Cooper said. The dish was so popular that on a visit to Israel in the early 70s, his daughter Gale D. of Long Beach. Berg knew the brand name on her containers.

He developed his own recipes, sometimes with the help of his wife Evelyn Berg, he created the famous matzo ball soup. Robin Cooper inherited the family recipe.

Berg met his wife on a blind date in the movies where they distributed life preservers, but both absolutely hated the green one and put it in the pack. They have been married for 74 years.

Food, the fabric of Berg’s life, stole other important things like family and community, Robin Cooper said. Family members often worked together in the restaurant’s two kitchens. He loved vacationing in Florida, but couldn’t stand to tear himself away from the restaurant for more than a few days. Plans can’t go on weekends so he can make sure he’s at dinner parties.

“He loved feeding people,” said Robin Cooper. He was inviting to his house. Everyone is welcome. That’s how my mom raised us… everyone is always welcome and there’s room at the table for everyone.

When Berg called his granddaughter, the first question Pepper asked her was, “What did you eat?” It was. His passion for food inspired Robin Cooper’s artistic thesis about food, love and family.

“Food is love in this house,” she said.

Berg was buried on April 11 in New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon. In addition to his wife, two daughters and grandson Robin Cooper, he is survived by his son Merrick Stewart Berg. son-in-law, Alan Cooper; granddaughter Jillian Kantrowitz of Charlotte, North Carolina and grandson Chase Cooper of Merrick.


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