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Jun 24, 2010 10:14 AM

PIYAZ lost its hecksher???

I saw that the Vaad of Queens took its hecksher away from Piyaz. Anyone have any information. Is the place still under hasgacha??

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  1. II was told by an acquaintance of the owner that the restaurant gave up the supervision for purely economic reasons-business is so bad they couldn't afford the expense of the mashigach/hashgacha.

    1 Reply
    1. re: robocop

      The following is the text of an email that came from the Vaad of Queens on June 7th:

      "Please be advised that due to numerous policy violations, we have removed the Hashgacha from Piyaz Restaurant 189-23 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, NY 11366 and Falafel Kitchen 186-15 Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows, NY 11366. They are owned by the same owners."

    2. northern queens is kinda funny that way.
      many eastern European and Israeli will
      continue to eat in a place that is "kosher"
      even without any sort of valid hechsher.

      1. A Jew moves into a new town and "builds two synagogues" and creates 4 Kashrut cerification boards. After all one must have at least 3 boards you don't trust. If the economic reason is true, the report from Vaad of Queens is Lashon Hora. Or simply lying!
        I can really understand, with the difficulties of keeping a kosher restaurant open, that certification can be unaffordable. There is ONE certification for many food related issues... There is no reason for hundreds of kosher certificates, except that we can even agree on reliability and only trust nobody. It is a shame... And my house is Glatt Kosher, but I would not expect anyone on this board to trust me enough to eat here... SAD but true!

        8 Replies
        1. re: mrotmd

          the problem in NYC is a double edge sword. you have Vaad's that are too expensive on one hand, and dozens of individual Rabbis with various dubious distinctions who are only too happy to put their name on a certificate at a lower price. the only solution would be for the Jewish community to subsidize a few area Vaad's perhaps with 2 or 3 different levels of Kosher certificate, while actively shunning any individual Hechers givers (as well a naysayers who undermine the established Vaad's authority) - even trying to get civil laws written in this State in order to pursue them legally. area Vaad's should also have some overlapping authority, so from time to time they can actually check up on each other's standards. unfortunately there is not enough "Achdus" within any Urban Jewish community for such a movement to occur.

          1. re: Joe Berger

            One of the major challenges of kosher supervision is that it can be profitable for a rabbi or organization to offer this service. Therefore, there can be temptation to over charge for what should be a non profit community service.

            1. re: moegreene

              Okay, I've come to this thread twice with my own $0.02, and after writing two responses, I decided against posting them.

              I don't know Piyaz nor do I know the Vaad directly.

              I do know the facts as stated in this thread.

              One guy owns two restaurants but somehow can't afford to pay for supervision. Meanwhile some people own only one restaurant and don't seem to have a problem.

              I don't know -- it would be awful for the Vaad to lie -- but maybe there are policy violations after all. Let's not paint the Vaad as the bad guys here. There may be circumstances that we're simply not aware of.

              And if there aren't, well, I encourage the owner of Piyaz to get legal representation because saying "policy violations" seems like slander/libel to me.

              1. re: tamarw

                "saying "policy violations" seems like slander/libel to me."

                I can't speak to this case, but I will tell you of a case about 10 years ago in Queens. The VHQ revoked it's certification on a popular pizza shop and left it's reasons vague. So the owner closed on Saturday and continued to sell "Kosher" pizza without any Hesher. The truth later came out that the owner was secretly using far cheaper non-kosher cheese to increase his profits while under the VHQ - an employee ratted him out. once that was known, he could no longer compete with non-kosher pizza stores, or ever be trusted again to get VHQ - and he soon went out of business. the moral of this story is knowing the truth can so irreversible damage a business - while keeping things vague leaves open the chance to regain their Hescher as their reputation remains relatively untarnished by any specific trust breeching nonkosher incident.

                think of it another way... would you ever date someone who got divorced under "irreconcilable differences", or would you rather date someone divorced who had a well known adulterous affair... sometimes the less you know, the better.

                1. re: Joe Berger

                  Oh I know. I know two separate incidents where similar things happened. In fact, that was in one of my previous responses that I cancelled.

                  1. About a decade ago in a southern state, a kosher eatery was selling sushi that was purchased from a non-Kosher eatery. The owners were caught because the mashgiach followed them when they made their purchase.

                  2. A few years ago, a Glatt Kosher meat restaurant ran out of meat, so one of the employees bought non-Kosher meat to serve instead. When one of the Kosher employees (mashgiach?) discovered this, the restaurant was shut down at once.

                  I don't recall the restaurant in case #2. I remember the eatery in case #1. It was reopened -- sure, it took a long time for people to trust the owner again -- but people are typically forgiving.

                  That said, nothing I say now goes against what I suggested earlier. If there ARE policy violations, Piyaz's loss of hechsher is justified and they won't do anything about it (which seems to be the case right now. I'm just making this assessment from the facts in this thread). If there AREN'T policy violations, the revocation of the hechsher and the false reasons for doing so ("policy violations") might stand up in court.

                  But faulting this to a "too expensive hechsher?" I don't buy it.

                  1. re: tamarw

                    "But faulting this to a "too expensive hechsher?" I don't buy it."

                    have you ever run your own business?
                    because it make perfect sense to me.

                    it's not so much that the hechsher fees are expensive,
                    rather meeting all their policies of the hechsher are.

                    so a business owner may do things below policy standards,
                    get caught - and when given a chance by the hechsher body
                    to get back up to code - cry poverty. many places go out of
                    business simply because they can't afford to meet health &
                    safety codes, let alone legally optional kashrut standards.

                    1. re: Joe Berger

                      I can see that -- but I don't think it's fair to fault the Vaad for it. Nobody said running a restaurant would be easy.

            2. re: Joe Berger

              I think it's important to understand what most of these restaurants mean when they say a Vaad hechsher is too expensive.
              There are 2 different costs that a place like Piyaz incurs when they get a Vaad hechsher. First is the fee to the Vaad itself, which is not exorbitant. In fact, the Queens Vaad (it's the only one where I'm familiar with the details) will often work sympathetically with struggling restaurants to keep the hechsher affordable. Remember that the Vaad is an association of local area Rabbis who do not pocket a dime of the hashgachah money and are motivated to keep local kosher establishments in their neighborhoods viable. The fees cover some administrative overhead.
              The second cost is much higher, and is usually what breaks the back of a struggling restaurant. If the Vaad determines that the establishment requires a mashgiach temidi (full-time supervision) in order to meet its standards, then the restaurant is forced to hire an individual approved by the Vaad and pay his salary. They will often find make-work for the mashgiach, but his essential function is the full-time monitoring of the kitchen. It's important to remember that none of this money goes to the Vaad -- it's all salary to the employee.
              When a restaurant struggles (and as much as I loved the food at Piyaz, it was always empty when I went there), the first salary they see as expendable is the mashgiach. So they lose their Vaad hashgacha.
              Other private hechshers are way cheaper -- not because the hechsher itself costs less, but because those rabbis often have more relaxed standards that don't require full-time supervision.
              I don't know the specific details of what happened at Piyaz. Just trying to explain the economics of the typical situation.