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why im aggravated at the kosher restaurant world

so, my 96 y.o. grandmother, who used to live two miles away from me, took a fall over the summer and since then has been staying over the bridge initially by my aunt, and now- at a rehab center- i try to head out every week on thursday nights to spend some time with her, this week, bc of the snow insanity they were predicting, i went out after work on wednesday

part of my routine has been to stop on my way home for quick take out for dinner- i used the kosher gps (check it out if u havent yet, its been a huge help for a shul for quick shabbos supplies when my research wasnt good) and found two places over the summer that are open late enough that ive been stopping by on the way home

anyway- last night- i stopped at one of them on my way home- i shared fried chicken (theirs is insane) and a Beef Fry Lettuce and Tomato last week- and hoped to do the same this week- i arrived and was told they were out of beef fry- which is understandable, it was late on a thursday night- and their stuff tends to be super fresh

so the owner said that the steak sandwich was popular, so i ordered that, asked a few questions, and then brought it home

initially my dinner buddy bit in to it, cringed, and then decided to make frozen hot dogs instead, that should have been enough of a warning, instead, i bit in to it, this was the worst sandwich ive ever had- the meat was totally unseasoned- no salt or pepper- it was really overcooked and the texture was weird- it was in bread that didnt work for a steak sandwich, and they either forgot the sauce, or it just was flavorless when matched with the pile of unseasoned beef

so there are a lot of things i like about this place- the fried chicken, the beef fry sandwich, most moist grilled chicken ive ever had- so i figured rather than post about it, id send a quick email, or an inbox fb msg (not on a public wall) and i was hoping for a response of- oh shoot- we must have left off the sauce- im so sorry, or some level of explanation, instead- i got a kind of odd- i thought hostile response "sorry you didnt like it... well see you when we see you"- what the hell

so today- was aggravated abt it, and telling a friend the story- and he said "it's a kosher restaurant, you can't look at your experience there with the level of seasoning or with the customer service and compare them- you have to temper your expectations"

suffice it to say that was not the answer i was looking for

im not saying that there are no restaurants with great seasoning and good service, - i eagerly await the opening of hakadosh bbq- the restaurant :-), citron and rose- i dont think i need to elaborate- anyone who has been there- the food is incredible and the wait staff is sincerely interested, both in your current experience and in what they can do in the future to make it better, l'bella on main street- the sit down, not the pizza- perfectly seasoned dairy italian AND wait staff that make you feel like they actually mean it when they say 'happy to' after you make a request, even a place like chickies in nnj if youre looking for a fast shnitzel sanwich- great sauce/breading matchups, and even more receptive and responsive service

but those experiences are in the minority

am i alone in feeling like we tend to put up with issues from out restaurants that would kill a restaurant in the real world, bc we feel like we dont have much of a choice??

please tell me im being crazy and overreacting- bc im not ready to give up that chicken :-)

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  1. Supply and demand my friend. If the supply is not there you will pay alot for a little and say, "thank you sir, may I have another" (think Kevin Bacon in the movie Animal House).

    I remember when I had to drive my daughter from NYC to Buffalo my GPS showed me three routes, one of them went via the Catskills, I was all excited to be able find a route that availed to me a kosher stop over at a pizza store in Monticello. Whether I liked the pizza or its price was immaterial since I was happy to have an option other than a bag of chips from a rest stop along the way.

    Had I not been kosher I don't have to tell you the hundreds of options that I would have had which would have allowed the supply and demand equation to do its job, but when the choice is one, you simply take it and be thankful.

    Oh how I loved it when I was in Israel - soooo many kosher options all over the place!

    2 Replies
    1. re: MartyB

      heh- i dont think i mentioned anything about having a problem with the price- which i did not- price would have been reasonable, if the sandwich was edible

      1. re: MartyB

        I've been reading all the comments above and sometimes find myself nodding in agreement. I grew up in a traditional home, but we did eat out. Now-a-days, we are more strict in our kashrus and have held to kosher establishments when eating out.

        As an overall comment on the kosher establishments, I think MartyB put it real well. We have some certified kosher establishments where we live and we have eaten at them and our thoughts have been they are at best just ok. Nothing to write home about. On the average, the food was ok, the service sometimes lacking. And for the record, we tip well, use cash or credit card, and always have tried to be good customers. The best place was an Indian vegetarian restaurant (the point being, not Jewish owned, not Jewish run, nor specifically Jewish clientel). The food was quite good and the service was good.

        The worst experience I won't mention to avoid embarressing anyone who might be on this list, but it did seem to confirm what other have said.

        There seems to be an attitude that they can charge whatever they want for poor quality and they believe kosher keeping Jews are so desperate for their product that we willingly pay it. That they have a captive audience.

        The bottom line? We are good cooks! We can make our own Chinese food, our own Mexican food, our own Italian food, our own pizza, etc.

      2. Where was the bad steak sandwich from?

        I find that I have more problems with beef than chicken in kosher restaurants.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DeisCane

          gotham in nnj

          INSANE fried chicken- but that sandwich- ech

          that being said, i thought i was going to wake up to a dozen posts and texts that i was overreacting- glad i didnt

        2. SL.......after reading your post and the subsequent comments, it is clear that ithe problem is not food at this establishment, but the service.

          Yes, that should be a consideration, afterall restaurants and prepared food establishments are all catagorized under the "hospitality" industry. That being said, the service should be part of the experience, as you noted ....."happy to".....

          For me it is not always the price, if the establishment is freindly, the food good, I make an effort to recommend and visit that place, because if no one patronizes the business, it will be out of business.

          I think you owe it to yourself , to stop by ,and speak with the owner or manager, and politely tell them that their place has real positives , and some negatives. Maybe your experience was an isolated problem, or perhaps indicative of a greater matter. If they are real menches they will listen to you. One can be objective , when trying to resolve a matter like this.

          5 Replies
          1. re: PHREDDY

            I posted something similar a while back (not my Pardes post, btw). Recently, I've been wondering if the low quality of service at Kosher restaurants has evolved over the years due to a change in the provider profile rather than the customer profile. The restaurant business has become an almost impossible field in which to succeed. So who enters it in the 2000's? Either someone with a passion for food and maybe without an eye for service or someone who is just not that successful in other areas and doesn't really even get the risks or the challenges he/she must face in order to make it work? I know with some places (the recently departed Ariels in Engelwood comes to mind) the food was excellent but there was no eye for service from the first day it opened and all through till the end. With the majority of other kosher places, the owners don't seem to be real old-school restaurant people. Often, they are immigrants with different cultural norms for dealing with customers (was that pc enough?) which is okay in the countries from which they came, but is not good enough for the average American kosher consumer. Or they are just people who think they can take a stab at it with no history in a service profession of any kind (think every single establishment in Monsey). I think, having been a kosher consumer for over 25 adult years, that the changes are due to the change in owner quality rather than customer quality. And, btw Moishe, I don't ignore the reality that sometimes a kosher consumer of any product (not just the food establishments) can be a bit more outspoken and/or demanding than someone from a different background, but, at the end of the day, service in the 2000's stinks and all of us who were patrons in years prior know that to be the case. There has been a decline.

            1. re: cappucino

              heh- a friend of mine who doesnt keep kosher and frequents both commented that he thinks a big part of the problem is shows like hells kitchen- he feels that people in kosher restaurants think that non-kosher people are experiences things like his insanity in non-kosher restaurants, so why do they have to bother with solicitous behavior

              for me, when im out of town, i will eat vegetarian, and when i was younger, i wasnt kosher, so ive experienced the gamut, fancy and not, and know that in the well reputed restaurants, the places people go back to (fancy and not) service is a major part of teh equation in the non-kosher world, as they should be in the kosher world

              i think weve become less demanding of the service- that many find it 'artistic' when we have to deal with a chefs attitude- bc we think were supposed to, but unless dealing with that chefs attitude means something like him choosing to not serve something bc of bad quality, just like i cant bring a bad mood in to my class- i shouldnt even be aware of a bad mood in the dining room

              are we more demanding? i dont know- for me, i think were so super psyched when the food quality goes up even a modicum, that to say were demanding bc were kosher- that being said, im referring to my community, my friends, not what you were so pc-ly referring to above- where i feel youre spot on

              1. re: shoelace

                That's a nice thought, but this type of attitude pre-dates Hell's Kitchen by decades. My own thought is that so many Kosher restaurants are opened by people who don't have a history in the hospitality or food service industry. They also tend to cater to a less discerning crowd (not less demanding, but less "worldly" in terms of dining expectations). I grew up in a house where "steak" was not specified as a cut (okay, maybe skirt steak was distingushed) and "well done" was the standard, although it was never referred to in that way. You "cooked" a "steak" until it was done.

                The concept of finer dining for most observant Jews is still defined by Kosher caterers and restaurants, so expectations are still tempered somewhat. But the existence of unsophisticated diners on both sides of the equation, as restaurant owners and customers, creates an environment where people who do care about their food are in the monority. The people who frequent this forum or similar (are there similar Kosher forums) are a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of 1% of Kosher diners.

                Just my opinion.

                1. re: ferret

                  theres something to what youre saying, ferret, that being said, the kosher eating dining out community is becoming more and more demanding

                  and dont we have the right to demand a better quality- or at the very least- decent customer service?

            2. re: PHREDDY

              The food is an issue, but yes, the service is the main issue

              I don't find that price is a major issue, not bc things arent expensive, but bc when I say to myself, wow that expensive, i then calculate in the time it would have taken me to make that specific dish, and what that time is worth, and the majority of the time, i end up deciding the price is fair

              ive frequented the place multiple times, and have always had praise, sometimes with ti accompanied by a complaint or a comment, when i deal with the chef- i always feel like he hears me, the owners have always been nice (until this time) and at times have been responsive, at times not, which is why before posting abt the experience, i sent a private msg giving them an opportunity to say the right thing

            3. I have seen similar behavior - while in NJ on business called an establishment to see if they truly closed at 8 PM arrived at 7 PM and was told the kitchen is closed - they did serve us but it was mediocre at best - on the plus I am strarting to see kosher retsuarants opening that realize they will be more successful if they not only provide good food but good service - examples of that here in CHicago are Soul Surfer Pizza and Milt;s BBQ for the Perplexed just to name two --

              2 Replies
              1. re: weinstein5

                arg- your post got me all aggravated again- had a similar experience with a closing my second time going to this place- called in advance bc i couldnt remember if they closed at 10 or 11 and was running late, and was told they were opened till 11
                when i arrived at 1020, the doors were locked- so i went elsewhere

                then i mentioned it on my next visit and the owner basically made me feel like i was either making it up or imagining it, he said that he is the one to close the restaurant every day and that its never closed before 11, um- excuse me

                1. re: shoelace

                  They did serve us - what made me feel worse was I with a colleague who did not keep kosher -

              2. Some restaurants are better at some things and some at others. Often it is the fault of the customers. They want unseasoned beef. It reminds them of the way their mothers cooked. I would suggest that you order what you like.
                I have been to kosher restaurants where I have had to argue (ok urge) that my supposedly spicy dish actually be spicy. The restaurant's diners obviously didn't like spicy.
                As to service, a whole different view. Many kosher restaurants believe that service is not necessary. They have not taught their wait staff anything. I have stopped going to a number of these restaurants. We should not stand for bad food nor bad service.

                1. "It's kosher, you want it should also be good?"

                  Can we put this in context? It is true that too many kosher restaurants have this attitude. It is especially prevalent where the place is the only one, the only one with a particular hashgacha, the only kosher place in the neighborhood, the only kosher pizza shop in town.

                  But isn't this the same kind of complaint you hear when non-kosher restaurants have a captive clientele. Think of school and company cafeterias. Ride Amtrak (non-Acela) with a hungry colleagues and hear them describe the sandwiches.

                  When things have to compete, they get better. Kosher eateries often don't.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: AdinaA

                    AdinaA ....you and Jeff are spot on....perhaps if we all convey that we would experience better service, we would frequent the place more often....BTW...I thought I was the only person who noticed poor service in kosher restaurants....

                    1. re: AdinaA

                      this is true, when youre going to the only kosher place in a small town

                      but in this case- in this area of nj- there are probably a dozen places within a mile or two

                      youre right, kosher eateries often dont- but if they dont- why do we continue to patronize them?

                      if we deserve better, and are willing to pay for better (in my case) why not make sure we get it

                      1. re: AdinaA

                        I think you're right. Like flying these days. Service has gone out the window because the competition is shrinking and because sometimes, we HAVE to fly. We're captive, and they know it.

                      2. I must be unsophisticated but assuming no major hangups I go to a restaurant, I am presented with the menu. Some of the more "fancier" places give their spiel as to the special of the day (which I 99% of the time do not take). I give my order, enjoy conversation with my dinner guest, and at some point the food get served. 95% of the time I have no issues. Here and there errors are made, a side dish was incorrect or left out to which most places apologize and hustle to correct the problem.

                        I just don't see the service as being such a problem as to eclipse the problem of kosher eating choice availability and at times prices.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: MartyB

                          Sorry, Marty, that's just not the case in my experience. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was truly disappointed by service at a non-kosher restaurant--we eat milchig out--but it's at least a quarter to a third of the time that we have issues at kosher places. Big or small, cheap or expensive.

                            1. re: DeisCane

                              +1

                              i do remember the last time i had an issue at a non-kosher place- over the summer out of town, the restaurant had made a mistake, apologized immediately and offered to comp us, we refused and just took the corrected meals

                              if i had gotten a sorry the restaurant was soo busy it must have gotten over cooked, or sorry we must have left teh sauce off- or something, that would have been the end of this

                            2. re: MartyB

                              service has been a problem for us. and a general feeling among kosher restaurant patrons that it is acceptable to bring children no matter how upscale a restaurant might be

                            3. I have thought long and hard about replying to this post, and know that my reply will offend some readers and be acknowledged as true by others.

                              I am a 5th generation American (out of a 7 generation Jewish American family). I grew up in a Kosher home, but we ate dairy and fish out. I have traveled and eaten in both kosher and non-kosher restaurants all over the world,

                              My father owned 15 clothing stores in New England (where I worked). I have worked in, owned or managed a ksoher bakery, catering business, deli and a treif pizza restaurant.

                              I was a management consultant in the hospitality business for years, and am an attorney who represents restaurants among other businesses.

                              Now that I have put my bonafides out for scrutiny:
                              "there is no anti-semite like a Jewish Anti-Semite"
                              "we are our own worst enemies"
                              and to quote my late father A"H
                              "Jews are my worst customers"

                              Living outside the biggest cities, American Jews are lucky to have one kosher restaurant in their community. prices will be high, service poor and quality mediocre. The owner knows he has a captive audience.
                              That said, he will be lucky to survive four years. The local rabbis will harang their congregants to support this business. These largely non-orthodox members of traditional synagogues will do so for awhile.

                              Why? #1 because if the community doesn't have a kosher restaurant/butcher/baker they can't attract or keep a rabbi and his family. #2 Its a shanda for the goyim when the only kosher restaurant in the community goes bust.

                              In the past community members have been asked to bankroll the operators of the local kosher establishement and flush away their money.

                              The restauranteurs are NOT qualified to operate the establishments, and inevitably fail.

                              The post WWII baby boom is gone. When I was growing up, New Haven had a dozen kosher butchers, 10 kosher bakeries and 8 kosher delis/restaurants.
                              Since 1972 8 kosher restaurants have come and gone. There are no kosher bakeries left, just the bakery departments in the chain supermarkets that are under supervision, and one butcher who also has a few tables to serve light meals. And that butcher in the span of almost thirty years is in his third location (within 1/2 mile) and went bust at least once that I remember)

                              The reality is that unlike our fellow CHer Moishe from Pardes, few of those operating kosher restaurants outside of NYC are trained professional restauranteurs. They have never learned the finer points of service and have no idea how to train their staff.

                              BUT>>>it is not all their fault. The customers are demanding. How many times on this board do we read complaints that restaurant X wouldn't vary a menu or serve a partial order at a lower price? Or make something not on the menu? Even better, how many posts ask where is the CHEAPEST place to get an item, not the best, the cheapest.

                              How many times do we read all the discussions about whose supervision is acceptable and to whom? How many supervisors should an individual restaurant owner have to pay, and how many customers think that the owner is obligated to donate to the customer's favorite charity just because the customer dines in that restaurant. Restaurant margins are thin, and owners must decide to who and how much they can donate and still turn a profit.

                              One may think it's nice to see a line of pushkas at the cash register. If I'm taking non-Jewish business associates or social guests to dine and the line of pushkas is present it is a definite turn off.

                              I know my rant is long, but I MUST relate the story of a diner that was the last straw, it made me sell my kosher deli restaurant in 1978 and get out of the kosher food business forever:

                              In those days, glatt was not a big thing. Most of our meat was stam kosher (which was fine with both orthodox rabbis who supervised us). However, the brisket,bologna and salami we sold was glatt. We didn't have glatt slicing machines, but had a sign posted that you could ask for these three meats to be sliced by hand using the glatt knife.
                              It was Monday evening of Labor Day weekend. I had worked all day and night Sunday and Monday. We had catered 6 affairs and the restaurant was jammed. An orthodox (Black hat) family (en route from Cape Cod back to Brooklyn) came in and were seated. The father came over and asked to examine the Teudah. He asked where we bought all out meat and who the mashgiach temidi was. Fine, we could handle this. the family placed their orders (6 meals, and 4 half sandwiches for the youngest kids). The father said to the waitress, "make sure they use the glatt knife."
                              So, the meals were served and the family began to eat.

                              Then the father came to the counter and asked my manager, "is it ok if I pay by check, I'm short of cash?" A little presumptuous to say the least to ask after ordering and the meals were served and half eaten. So, my manager said yes, after all this was before ATMs and the food was already served.

                              At the end of the meal, the father came to the register and paid the bill. He wrote a check and added a 10% tip (this was 1978) totalling $140. An unknown Jew that was trusted. BTW, he said, I dated it for Friday when I get paid.

                              TOTAL Chutzpah, I don't know you, you want special treatment, you eat and then ask to pay by check. You give me an out of town check, I have to advance the tip to the waitress, You postdate the check, and SURPRISE!!!
                              The Check Bounces............
                              go collect on an out of state bad check....
                              That was it for me.

                              I'm not saying any of the CHers are like that man in 1978, but as I dine in kosher restaurants I often see some of that same behavior, customers with a sense of entitlement who begrudge the owner a profit, drive the servers crazy with constant demands and don't control their children.

                              *********
                              It's a two way street, owners have to be professional, they must train their servers, pay them a living wage and have a safe workplace. BUT the patrons must also be menchen. Don't tie up a table for 6 with your family of 4 because there's more room for the strollers. Each seat has to produce X revenue per day. Don't expect the owner to let you share meals without a plate charge. Don't show at 10 minutes to closing and expect great service and a full menu to be available. DO tip an appropriate amount, DO control your kids. Don't disturb the manager/owner's workflow to ask for donations, send a request by mail or make an appointment to see the owner during a slow period.

                              22 Replies
                              1. re: bagelman01

                                I do not disagree with you at all. I have commented a number of times about people who wanted to order off the menu, and for a cheaper price.
                                My argument, in a place like New York, are the restaurants that believe service doesn't matter.
                                There are many restaurants where the service is good, but still some where the waiters are doing you a favor. Where the management feels entitled to treat you badly.
                                In turn there are restaurants where strollers should not be allowed. Other diners do not find crying children cute. Children running around and banging chairs are not right.
                                Is this a problem only in kosher places? No. Yet as a person who has eaten in non-kosher restaurants there seems to be an epidemic of young frum people who act badly towards staff and other diners that you don't see in other restaurants.

                                1. re: jeffrosenbaum

                                  There are restaurants that I won't go to anymore because every time I went the customers made it unbearable. I even ended up with a kid's rice in my hair and lap because some bored kids decided to run around and throw rice at each other. I could hardly fault the servers there for not being particularly friendly.

                                  However, I am still baffled by the server who screamed at me and a friend for sitting in the "wrong" place in a seat-yourself restaurant.

                                2. re: bagelman01

                                  there are many points in your post that are totally valid- but most, not at all related to the situation

                                  this wasnt a restaurant in a small jewish community where there are a limited number of restaurants and though i was sad they didnt have what i initially came in for, it was late on a thursday night, and completely understandable, and i didnt complain about it

                                  the issue was a lack of professional attitude towards someone who had become a pretty consistent customer, after substandard service- jewish or non-jewish, not ok

                                  and yes- we are out own enemies- which was what initially help me back from posting, and why i addressed them in private before saying anything

                                  sometimes we, ourselves, are our worst enemies

                                  he knows me, he knows i post- i sent them a link the first tiem i posted about them, which was a pretty positive post, and hes seen other both negative and positive things ive posted about other places here, and hes aware that i blog elsewhere

                                  that itself, even if i wasnt a regular customer, should have caused a decent professional response when i commented about a sandwich in a private msg

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    I appreciate all the details, bagelman and those of gotcholent. It's good to know who's who around here. We all bring our life experience "to the table" here and it should be valued. It's still the same bottom line. A kosher customer can be demanding and annoying. A kosher restaurant is up against steep odds. And...service should still be good 90% of the time because it is a service industry. And, with regard to Moishe and any other top chef that steps forward...I'm glad they have creds and passion, but they also need to run a restaurant smoothely. Bagelman, a good chef is not necessarily a good restauranteur. I'd like to hear more about Citron and Rose and why their service is so good. Is it the vision of the Chef or the resources he has or both. I do know that he is doing it right on all counts.

                                    1. re: cappucino

                                      The team running Citron & Rose--Steve Cook and Mike Solomonov--also runs Zahav, an excellent treif modern-Israeli restaurant with superb service by mainstream standards. They moved their manager, Eilon, from Zahav to C&R when it opened. The chef-de-cuisine was also imported from Zahav. The team also runs a couple other more casual, very successful treif places. In other words: they are professional restaurateurs with mainstream experience. They are also well funded and that combined with their local reputation allows them, I think, to attract and retain quality and professional staff (hopefully that remains the case as staffing can be a problem in the Philly 'burbs).

                                      1. re: barryg

                                        all true, but that all makes it sound like good service isnt providable from a place that doesnt have deep pockets

                                        theyre not good bc theyre well funded, theyre good bc mike takes seasonality into account, so the food is always top top quality, bc his staff is trained to be attentive and patient- bc they listen and are responsive

                                        have i with people who were told- "no, im sorry we cant do that" absolutely, but noone minds when its followed with another suggestion that takes in to account the preference indicated in the request, or with, but if you gie us notice next time, were happy to

                                        1. re: shoelace

                                          You're right but the reason I bring it up is that places with deep pockets can afford to hire experienced kitchen and service staff, train their staff appropriately, and have enough staff (cooks, runners, dishwashers, bussers, etc) to keep things running smoothly. Certainly small mom & pop shops can, and should, provide good service but I guarantee no other manager of a Kosher restaurant in Philly is getting paid as well as Eilon (I should add I don't know what he makes but I still believe it to be true).

                                          This is not to say a well heeled investor in no rush to make his money back is required to provide good service, but it definitely helps for this kind of restaurant. But there is no reason for anyone in the restaurant business to be rude to customers, that is for sure.

                                          1. re: barryg

                                            Im sorry, but, though not in the food industry, I've worked in administration/management, for more and less heeled companies and have always made sure my employees were well trained, its part of the job

                                            in this case, as i said, it wasnt the employees who were the issue, but one of the owners

                                            the employees made a mistake (i hope,) that happens and would have been no big deal had the owners responded correctly

                                            1. re: shoelace

                                              No disagreement with that. My response was really more in response to cappucino who asked how C&R does it, and the most important thing is owners who care.

                                              1. re: barryg

                                                some people go in to things saying ill try to do a good job- some people go in to things to make money, and some extraordinary people like mike solo only go in to things they know they can do well

                                      1. re: Moishefrompardes

                                        I knew I like you, I know I like your food and your attempt to bring really creative dining to the kosher community.
                                        and as I have no stake in current kosher dining/food business, i am free to tell it as it really is and suffer no retribution or loss of business.

                                        Keep up the good work and dishing out that delicious innovative food.

                                      2. re: bagelman01

                                        How are pushkes a problem?

                                        I think that even in Manhattan that if you own the only Kosher dairy place or Kosher meat place in a five block radius, the temptation would be to consider anything you provide as good enough for a captive audience. Sure, an office worker can hop on the subway to get to an alternative, but most will stick with what is easily in reach, no matter how dirty, disorganized or depressing "Shmuel's House of Gruel" may be.

                                        1. re: Dovid

                                          Pushkes are not classy looking, whatever other virtues they may have, and those who aren't used to them might find them offputting.

                                          But I love 'Shmuel's House of Gruel.'

                                          1. re: GilaB

                                            'Shmuel's House of Gruel' is from the early days of the board.

                                            1. re: GilaB

                                              Agreed. A refined restaurant doesn't have anything lying around. No disrespect to pushkes, but they don't belong in fine dining

                                            2. re: Dovid

                                              If you read my post, I was very specific about the line of pushkes being a turn off when taking NON-Jewish clients and associates to eat.

                                              Unfortunately, the pushke lineup just reinforces the stereotype of Jews always out for money. It's enough that the customer just had to pay more than in 'other restaurants' (Note: sometimes it's the Non-Jewish associates taking me to lunch/dinner at a place they know I can eat a meat meal), but now the patron is being asked for MORE.
                                              We know it's not for the restauranteur, but the perception of the NON-Jewish patron is not the same as ours.

                                              That line of cans cheapens the look that the restaurant designer worked so hard to achieve and the owner paid to have. Never mind that in lower end 'family style' restaraunts it can cut into the sales volume of POS items the owner puts out near the register (Candy, gum, etc.).

                                              The proprietor is paying rent for the space and is entitled to all the revenue that can be generated therein. The proprietor can decide where and to whom he would like to give tzedakah. The patrons should not have to walk the gauntlet past the line of pushkas with others watching and able to see to which charity and how much the patron gives.

                                              I guess this is why I don't like public pledging in shuls on Yom Kippur, as opposed to handing in a card with a folded down tab.

                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                It never crossed my mind that pushkes are tacky, or that it is an imposition on patrons to have them there. I always drop some change into the pushkes. Others can ignore them.

                                                I don't know what the goyim think of pushkes, but I would assume that they see charity boxes at Starbucks, and don't think that the money is being collected for Starbucks shareholders. I do see your point about counter space being taken by pushkes that could be set aside for POS items.

                                                1. re: Dovid

                                                  That's what's great about Ch, you get exposed to different takes on the same situation.

                                                  BTW, I'm in about 6 or 8 different Starbucks each week and have never seen a charity box at the counter.

                                                  You may run into a 'March of Dimes' or similar money board (holds quarters) at independently owned businesses, but chains (such as Starbucks) and large publicly held companies do not permit them. They don't want the responsibility, don't want to be accused of favoritism amongst charities, and don't give up the valuable real estate. A company such as Starbucks is far more likely to make a direct donation to the charity than have a collection box.

                                                  This month was Girl Scout Cookie Month. All the area supermatrket chains allowed them to set up tables outside the supermarkets and sell the cookies. Yes, it's competition, but promotes goodwill in the community. BUT no charity collection takes place inside the store. No chance of alienating customers, taking up space, etc.

                                                  And as an aside to your first paragraph. Today, many people operate without cash. I have to make a point to have singles in my pocket for the pushke at shul in the morning. But during the course of a day, it's all plastic. Even the parking meters take plastic in our area. I keep an emergency large bill in my card case, but often I'll have no cash with me in a restaurant, and that large bill won't be going in the pushke.
                                                  and....I'm pushing 60, not a kid who only uses plastic. My 24 yo waves a keytag or uses an app on her smartphone at Starbucks, No cash.

                                            3. re: bagelman01

                                              Very unusual. I mean, if you are going to write a bad check, be a sport and put in a 20% tip.

                                              1. re: Rmis32

                                                I guess you missed the fact that it was 1978, when a 10% tip outside Manhattan was a correct amount to leave

                                            4. I think any restaurant business plan based on dietery restrictions is going to be a tough sell. Thanks to our university, the space program, and medical fields, we have a pronounced Muslim community. Which did not stop our two halal restaurants to go bust. And as for kosher, I cannot remember such in the area for the last 20 years.

                                              As a goy, kosher, halal, or vegetarian do not immediately spring to mind as a go to choice on Saturday night. If I want eastern european, I have a great Polish place. Likewise middle eastern (lebanese). But they are definately not seperating dairy from beef, let alone anything close to pork free.

                                              And I love the phrase the worst antisemite is a semite. You should have seen the Saudi students haggling over the bill with the owner. They refused to talk to his wife. Who was on the cash register. I know it is a cultural thing.

                                              When the goy search out kosher restaurants for the food, like the Thai places here, then I will consider it a viable concern.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                Judging by your name, I sense you are near KSC. I work for NASA, have in the past made many trips there, and yes, it was tough finding places there! Just did the best I could eating fish at seafood restaurants. Even in Orlando, I had trouble finding synagogues with daily services (on one of my trips, I was saying kaddish for my dad).

                                                1. re: runtexas

                                                  Not just kosher. We have a large number of ethnic groups here, and terrible representation when it comes to food. With the exception of Thai. And I get homemade at our local Buddhist monastery on Sunday for $5.

                                                  I hope you were able to have enough sit with you.

                                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                    Well, long story - short, I made the trip long after sitting shiva and the first 30 days. But I was still within the first year and was attending shul every day to say kaddish. Was in Cocoa Beach for three days on business. Drove back to Orlando for services. They had a minyan for me once. But my sister and uncle (dad's brother) back home covered for me.

                                                    Getting back to food, breakfast was easy at the hotel, bagel and instant oatmeal. Dinner, well, I would have fish. Lunch at KSC (that place is huge, no time to drive offsite), so I would do the best I could at the KSC on-site cafeteria. Being native Texan, I know southern cooking, and therefore what to avoid.

                                                    Ok, almost time to shut down...Pesach is tonight, it is getting time to shut down the computer.

                                                2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                  While I think that restaurants with dietary restrictions will always struggle, even in Israel kosher fine dining rarely attracts non-observant patrons.

                                                  I live in Jerusalem, and for cheap to mid-range dining, kosher restaurants on average are a little cheaper. The nonobservant crowd that I know goes to a mix of kosher/not kosher midrange places truly based on who has the best experience (food/service/value). However, when you get to fine dining, it is very rare to see nonobservant patrons (unless they're dining with observant patrons). First, the kosher fine dining restaurants (on average) are more expensive than the non-kosher fine dining places. Then, those restaurants have a reputation of having average Israeli service or being just for tourists.

                                                  So while I think that dietary restrictions come into play, in Jerusalem you have a far more captive market that's willing to accept kosher dining (whether they keep kosher or not). However, in the fine dining scene there still remains a pretty hard divide between where the observant and nonobservant eat.