New Kid on the Block: Hank’s Juicy Beef

Henry Hank Tibensky of Hanks Juicy BeefHenry “Hank” Tibensky took a circuitous route to opening Hank’s Juicy Beef. After growing up in Chicago, he went to college in Connecticut, then moved to New York City, where he modeled and waited tables at Trattoria Dell’Arte for a year. Then he moved to China, where he taught English. Back in the city, he considered opening a Shanghai-style restaurant, but took the safer route toward law school. Working as a paralegal for three years disabused him of that notion; he embarked instead on a three-year tour of duty in finance. “But I was sitting in my office on Park Avenue thinking about this sandwich that I couldn’t get anywhere in the city,” he says. “I realized that my dream is to bring the beef sandwich to New York. Does that sound cheesy?”

One taste of the sandwich, a Chicago specialty, and you can see why he was obsessed. Here’s the HJB website’s description: “Slow roasted beef, marinated in savory Italian herbs and spices, topped with a spicy (or mild) giardiniera, and loaded onto a soft Italian-style roll.” I ordered mine (pictured above) “sweet and cheesy,” i.e., with green peppers and provolone.

Tibensky was able to lean on his family’s expertise. “All my mom’s siblings married into Italian families in Chicago, and my aunt’s family owned a restaurant called Vito’s. One Easter, I asked them for advice, and off we went to the kitchen.” He perfected his recipe while selling the sandwich at the Long Island City Flea.

Tibensky is proud of the effort that goes into his food. “We do all our own cooking in house,” he says. “We slice the beef fresh every morning—it’s grass-fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free. And we make the giardiniera and lemon Italian ice ourselves.” The short menu also includes eggplant parm and Italian sausage sandwiches (with “old-school Italian sausage made in Chicago”), along with a beef-sausage combo. In the next few weeks, Tibensky plans on adding “Chicago’s number one Vienna Beef hot dog,” with the appropriate toppings.

The space, most recently an outpost of Quiznos, has been opened up and spruced up, with seating for 20, a Michael Jordan poster, and a zesty neon sign over tropical wallpaper. Tibensky hopes the restaurant will appeal to folks looking to wind down after work with a beer from Sixpoint or Bronx Brewery or a glass of Macari Vineyard rosé. (Look for a happy hour special soon.) He chose the location because the law firm he worked at was on Centre Street, and he recalled fondly the diverse group of people and, less fondly, how few places there were to eat in the east Tribeca/Civic Center area.

As we talk, a patron stops by to say how much he enjoyed the sandwich. “He was a first-time beefer,” says Tibensky after the patron leaves. “To see that smile after the first bite—it makes a long day worthwhile.”

Hank’s Juicy Beef is at 84 Chambers; hanksjuicybeef.com. Delivery is not available yet, and for now the restaurant is only open weekdays.

Hanks Juicy BeefHanks Juicy Beef neon signHanks Juicy Beef kitchenHanks Juicy Beef giardinieraHanks Juicy Beef interiorHanks Juicy Beef beer and wine menuHanks Juicy Beef lemon Italian iceRecent New Kid on the Block / First Impressions articles:
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7 Comments

  1. Hank’s Juicy Beef had not even opened yet they enthusiastically agreed to participate in this year’s Taste of Tribeca, where their signature sandwiches were a big hit. We’re grateful for their support and wish them great success. We will definitely come by!

  2. I tried the sandwich and it was good. I thought it was a bit small and the price does go up if you add things. I was hoping for a bigger sandwich like the ones in Chicago. The Sweet & Cheesy ran about 12.75. Its good to have new options in the neighborhood.

  3. Hank is pretty juicy himself.

  4. Hank’s was pretty great! Had to go back up to get the sandwich juicy (drenched) enough, but Hank was back there making sure it was fully submerged and even handed out extra juice for dippings. A+ Hank. Will be back.

  5. Would you be able to publish a photo of said beefy deliciousness? Thank you!

  6. Tried Hank’s Juicy Beef at the Long Island City Flea and have been eagerly awaiting the opening since then. Welcome addition to the neighborhood and the sandwiches in the restaurant are great! Bravo Hank!

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