After graduating from a Lubavitcher Yeshiva high school in Crown Heights, he attended Brooklyn College, briefly sold mink stoles, and ran a bungalow colony in the Catskills, where he opened a deli.
It was after he opened his Manhattan restaurant, he said in one of many versions of the story, that “a Jewish hippie” tipped him to the potential of tofu. “The Book of Tofu” (1979), by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, became his new bible.
Mr. Mintz’s first marriage ended in divorce (“Bean curd wasn’t exciting to her,” he told The Baltimore Jewish Times in 1984). In 1984 he married Rachel Avalagon, who died this year. He is survived by their son, Ethan.
Mr. Mintz often sought guidance from Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the venerable leader of the Lubavitcher Hasidic movement, to whom he had been introduced by his brother, Isaac Gershon Mintz. David Mintz would write daily $1,000 checks to Rabbi Schneerson’s philanthropies, according to COLLive, an Orthodox news site. (He was a founder of the congregation Chabad of Tenafly.)
“Whenever I met with the rebbe I would mention what I was doing, and he would say to me: ‘You have to have faith. If you have faith in God, you can do wonders,’” Mr. Mintz said in an interview with Jewish Educational Media in 2013.
Late in the 1970s he had to close Mintz’s Buffet, his restaurant on Third Avenue, because the block was being razed to build Trump Plaza. When he was offered the option to transplant his restaurant to the Upper West Side, he sought Rabbi Schneerson’s guidance. The rabbi’s secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, called him back, Mr. Mintz recalled, and said: “Get a pencil and paper and write it down. This is very important.”