For some, life is an adventure filled with opportunities to excel and places to explore. For Walter Himmelstein, a young man, endearingly known as Putzel, life literally doesn't go beyond his family's fish store and his community on the upper west side of Manhattan. Walter's aspirations of taking over his uncle's smoked fish emporium are disrupted by the arrival of Sally, who becomes romantically involved with his about-to-retire and very-married uncle. While Walter tries to thwart their romance in order to ensure his taking over the business, he finds his circumscribed life thrown off kilter, and, after years of being undermined by his family and friends, he finally starts to realize his full potential. With Sally's help, Walter confronts his fears and proves he is more than a Putzel.