So's Your Brother: The Krupin Shtick Is Back

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Washington institution is back -- if you like ham on wry.

Throughout the '80s, power players flocked to Mel Krupin's restaurant downtown for his trademark pickles and insults and then, after it closed, followed him up Wisconsin Avenue to his New York deli. Food, schmood -- a put-down from Krupin was the highlight of the day. He sold the place in 1999, leaving a void in the wisecracking-restaurateur world.

Enter Morty Krupin , Mel's long-suffering younger brother. After decades behind the scenes, he's the new face (and mouth) of Morty's. Same location, same teasing, new name. "It's the deli shtick they want -- the insults," says Morty. "That's how it is in this business."

He was planning a move to Florida when he was coaxed out of retirement by new owners Eric Eun and Jared Kim , who bought the restaurant in April on the condition they could get him on board. The deli stumbled under previous owners, even though they were able to retain the Krupin name until two years ago. "I knew the only way I could revive this place was to bring the old blood back," Eun says. Morty agreed to be general manager, and Mel (maitre d' at McCormick & Schmick's during the week) suggested the new name and agreed to work alongside Morty on the weekends.

The menu has already received a makeover; new signs and decor are on the way. But the Krupin tradition remains the same: insults with a grin. "If I can get someone to smile when they walk in and smile when they leave, I think I have a repeat customer," says Morty.

At the White House, 'United 93'

President and Laura Bush saw the movie "United 93" in the White House family theater last night with relatives of many of the 40 passengers and crew who died on the hijacked flight nearly five years ago. This is the first time the president has seen the harrowing film, which dramatizes the struggle to retake the plane from terrorists aimed at the Capitol or White House.

The relatives are leading a campaign to raise money for a $58 million memorial at the crash site near Shanksville, Pa., which is scheduled to open in 2011. At the president's urging, the House approved $5 million two weeks ago to buy the land. Universal Pictures pledged $1.15 million, 10 percent of the film's opening-weekend gross.

This Just In . . .

· Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stretched out the news cycle on the birth of their daughter to a record fourth day, allowing her doctor to tell People magazine yesterday that Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt came into the world via scheduled C-section, owing to the fact she was in breech position. Speculation continues to swirl over the significance of her name, which some have translated as "new Messiah" (no, seriously!). Or it could be a homage to Bethesda author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's children's classic "Shiloh," the heartwarming story of an abused beagle pup. Naylor, whose book won the 1992 Newbery Medal, did not return a call seeking comment.

· It's hard to say goodbye. Luciano Pavarotti has postponed five June concerts in his worldwide farewell tour, including a June 21 stop at Verizon Center; the 70-year-old tenor is suffering back problems, his manager says. The concert has been rescheduled for October, but don't hold your breath.

Hey Isn't That . . . ?

· Former Washington Freedom star Mia Hamm , cheering on her husband, first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, in at least two of the games his Dodgers played against the Nationals over the weekend. The Olympian is apparently still radiating that Wheaties-box charisma a year and a half after she retired from soccer: Fellow sports fans stared long and hard enough to report that she wore a tan tank top and jeans, that she sat with friends whose kids wore University of North Carolina and Nomar jerseys and that she ordered a Coke and ate some of her friends' fries.

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