Rockaway Has Heart Of Powerful Summer Res
Spy David Scharf’s BlackBerry and you’ll see a few hot phone numbers that he keeps right at his fingertips: Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley, billionaire Carl Icahn, hotelier Ian Schrager and – Shore Car Service.
Scharf, 36, an attorney to the rich and famous, was recently named in Crain’s New York Business “Forty Under 40” – an honor that many accept as undisputable proof that the list-maker is among New York’s power elite.
“Industry titans go to war with me,” Scharf, a self-described rainmaker, said of the clients he represents. Scharf is the guy who does battle with The Donald’s adversaries.
But there’s more to know about David Scharf. A strict Orthodox Jew, Scharf straddles religion and his high power secular life and career with obvious success – and he plants both feet in Rockaway for the summer.
If you commute to Manhattan via mass transit you could bump into Scharf. You may share a cab ride with him to the Rockaway Park subway station, see him at the Last Stop Gourmet Shop or sit next to him on the A Train, but you probably wouldn’t assume that the person you’re looking at is the wealthy and powerful man who Trump introduced to his friends as “The best lawyer I’ve ever known.”
On a recent rainy day Scharf rode the train in a white shirt and dark suit, a long black raincoat and pair of chiseled, rimless glasses. He wore conservative black wingtips and carried a black Denier nylon attaché. The only hint of color and panache on that soggy Rockaway morning came from his cheeks, a red Ferragamo necktie, which had a pattern of little neckties printed on it, and a gold sailor’s watch – a law school graduation gift from his parents.
Spot Scharf on a Friday evening in Neponsit, where he has summered with his family for almost 15 years, and he will look very different as he walks to Agudath Israel.
So why does Scharf, whose permanent residence is on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, come to Rockaway in the summer only to travel back each weekday – a practice common during the peninsula’s bungalow heyday but nearly unheard of now? Family. He grew up here in a beachfront house on Beach 137 Street, where his mother and stepfather still reside.
In all there are four generations of his family living in the west end. That and the little things – walking around barefoot, teaching the kids to bodysurf – keep him coming back. Scharf and his wife Cheryl lived here for the first six months of their marriage. The couple fell in love with Rockaway’s small town charm and began renting summerhouses here about 15 years ago.
“We could summer anywhere but we come back here,” Scharf said. “You’re not dealing with three and a half hours of traffic going out on a Friday night,” he said comparing a trip to Rockaway with a journey to the Hamptons. “We can have our privacy and nobody is looking for us to throw a big bash on Friday or Saturday.”
The Scharf’s have four children: a 12-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter, a 6-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old son. The older kids split their time between Rockaway and summer camp and are “ecstatic” that they’ll return to have the last two weeks of their break in Rockaway – the place where they learned to boogie board and ride their bicycles. The Scharf’s love that their kids can play where they know the lifeguards and neighbors on a first-name basis on a block David described as “very homey and festive.
“We’ve definitely given our kids an appreciation of all the neighborhood has to offer,” Scharf said adding, “I’m giving my kids what I had when I was a kid, and that’s a pleasure.”