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Large Jewish communities WITHOUT a kosher restaurant

Can you same some large Jewish communities that DON'T have a kosher restaurant. Are there any places that surprise you don't have one? Like they seem like a big enough community that you would think they should be able to support one but they don't have one.
For me both Allentown, PA and Providence, RI come to mind.

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  1. Interesting topic. Allentown does have the Muehlenberg cafeteria but that's not really a restaurant.

    How about Indianapolis?

    2 Replies
    1. re: DeisCane

      You are right it looks like Indianapolis has a bakery only.

      1. re: DeisCane

        Allentown is losing its Jewish population----Abe used to have a great restaurant but he gave a higher priority to deliver his meals to Brooklyn Shoprite!!!!!!

      2. Scranton, PA has a significant yeshivish community as well as an established yeshiva and there's nothing there.

        1. How about Milwaukee? Many Milwaukeeans (is there such a word?) go east (south) on I-94/US41 & get off US41 @ Lake Cook Rd & go to Mizrahi Grill and go shopping at Garden Fresh/Kosher Korner/Amor Pizza.

          1. Beaconstreet- you don't count the various vegetarian places certified by Rabbi Dolinger in Providence?

            1 Reply
            1. re: masteraleph

              Since at least one of those establishments serves treif liquors then no.

            2. St. Louis. They've tried several times& never takes. A friend of mine who teaches in local yeshiva tells me the kids dream of a pizza shop.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JackieR

                There is soon going to be a professional market study in St Louis, to determine what sort of demand really exists for a kosher place, and what sort of place would do best. At the moment nobody really has any idea, they just try things at random and they fail.

                1. re: JackieR

                  I went to a kosher Indian restaurant in St. Louis with an AYCE buffet. Not exceptional, but pretty good standard Indian food, although I don't know what region of India. I recall it being vegetarian but may be vegan. There's also a deli inside the kosher grocery store but that may not count for purposes of this discussion.

                2. Memphis - Like St Louis Memphis has seen its fair share of restaurants come and go - right now the only one is the on the JCC -

                  1. I'm pretty sure Union City, NJ home to a sizeable population of Klausenberger chassidim, has very little, if anything, in the way of prepared food, take out or eat in. It's my understanding that they don't even have very much in the way of Jewish grocery stores or butchers. They travel to nearby Teaneck. It's particularly surprising since many of the women don't drive.
                    If anyone has different information about this, I'd be interested in learning about it.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: helou

                      The klausenbergers live in such a small area (about 4 square blocks, I believe) and chasidim in general are not exactly big restaurant goers. With Passaic and Teaneck only 15 minutes away (give or take), I think it's pretty reasonable, actually.

                      1. re: DeisCane

                        I think that raises a good point that people seem to be overlooking. The question is "Jewish community", not "civic municipality with Jews". It doesn't really matter if Yonkers or Union City, NJ have restaurants when they effectively have access to neighboring restaurants. As Bagelman pointed out, even at 60-90 minutes people will drive to go out, so this needs to be a regional view. Now 60-90 feels a little long for me for a regular trip, but I think we can draw a line somewhere around 30 min range and say if you have access within 30 minutes that counts as being part of the community.

                        1. re: avitrek

                          All marketing and economic demographics put Fairfield county, CT in the NYC zone. In fact, MetroNorth Commuting goes all the way to New Haven, so that's why I use the 90 minute mark. I grew up in New Haven and now live in Trumbull. We watch NY TV News, not CT, read the NY Times as our local paper. Our shopping/dining/cultural world revolves around NY. Fairfield county is considered bedroom communities of NYC. Your 30 minute mark is shortsighted. It takes longer than that to get from Riverdale to the great kosher restaurants in Brooklyn.

                          The commutable suburbs can't compete against the city when it comes to kosher choice. Many of us spent years commuting to work in NYC or going in for dates.

                          To put this in perspective, when interviewing Rabbis, local congregations know that the closer to NYC the less they can pay the rabbi, as it's only a short ride away. Once you hit the 2 hour mark (Hartford/Springfield) it all changes. You don't just get in the car at 6:30 to drive to NYC for 8PM dinner.

                          BTW>>>you are correct that 60-90 seems long for a regular trip, but most of those who live outside NYC (especially those who grew up out of town) are not part of the culture who eats out (kosher) 3-6 times per week. It is far more likely to be a biweekly or monthly occurrence.

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Nevertheless, I would think a place like Union City where many of the women don't drive and where, presumably, there are a lot of children, would have a pizza place/bakery type store.

                            1. re: helou

                              "pizza place/bakery type store"

                              BUT the OP used the term RESTAURANT. Just because you can get a kosher item to eat at bakery or deli (who'll make you a sandwich) or buy cooked food to eat in the food court of the Shop-Rite supermarket (as in Waterbury, CT) DOESN'T make the establishment a RESTAURANT.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                Yes, but there are plenty of smaller Jewish communities that would be happy to even have that.

                                1. re: follick

                                  I can drive 30 minutes to Waterbury for that, or 1 hour to NY (90 minutes to queens/Brooklyn) for a real; restaurant. You can be sure I never avail myself of what's in Waterbury.
                                  I have a cousin in Waterbury and he also drives to NY for real restaurant meals. The operation you describe appeals to the yeshiva bochrim and becomes a hangout keeping families away.

                                  and in smaller communities this business model will fail. Especially in New England where your average chain supermarket in any kind of a Jewish community has a bakery under kosher supervision: Stamford, Norwalk, Fairfiled, Trumbull, New Haven, Waterbury, West Hartford, Springfield and the list goes on and on. This type of operation puts small kosher operators out of the business.

                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                    Waterbury's pizza is beyond disgusting. West Hartford has zilch these days.

                      1. How large is large?
                        I grew up in New Haven which had 30,000+ Jews and many kosher delis and restaurants over the years.
                        No current kosher restaurants, as opposed to non Jewish dairy restaurants that happen to be under kosher supervision.
                        I don't count meals available at the Slifka Center at Yale as being a restaurant. Heard last week on Facebook that a 7th operator in 18 years will be reopening the cafe at the JCC in Woodbridge..good luck, he'll need it.

                        I now live just outside Bridgeport. 20,000+ Jews in the area no kosher restaurant or butcher.

                        I was in the kosher restaurant business in New Haven in the late 70s. Locals don't support the kosher restaurants. The community isn't large enough for owners to make a good living and the biggest problem>>>>Southern Connecticut is too close to NYC. Most of us would rather take a 60-90 minute ride and have a choice of many kosher restaurants than patronize the only guy in town.

                        Hartford has nothing, there is a deli in Bloomfield north of the city.
                        Waterbury with an active Yeshiva and Kollel has a lousy pizza place, a fair bagel joint and delis that come and go. In general an operator can't survive on the meager amounts of money the Yeshiva community out of town has to spend and the balel batim aren't interested in dining out locally on a regular basis.

                        It's the same in much of New England, Springfield, Worcester

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bagelman01

                          I believe the deli in Bloomfield has closed. Which is not surprising, considering that it was hardly ever open to begin with.

                        2. I doubt you'd consider this a large Jewish community, but the entire state of North Carolina has 1 kosher restaurant in Charlotte. It is an adjunct to what I believe is the only kosher market in the state. It's menu consists largely of the items the market sells - deli meats, grilled meats, and the like.

                          We have had a few short-lived kosher and/or Israeli markets in the Raleigh-Durham area but they've never been able to make a go of it.

                          1. Oak Park/Southfield/West Bloomfield, Michigan. There have been a few but nothing lasts very long.

                            1. isn't this true for most cities except for NY and LA? DC used to have a french K place, now I think only Eli's qualifies (maybe and under whose oversight?)

                              SF ought to, but I believe only Sabra at the edge of Chinatown is certified (again by who?)

                              and STL? HA! home of the pork steak and toasted ravioli in meat sauce? in places like that if one wants to keep Kosher, out of necessity it requires home cooking.

                              I suspect this is why it's so hard to run such a railroad, there will always be someone who refutes the authority of the qualifying Rabbi in question, reducing an already limited customer base for a restaurant/deli.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: hill food

                                You need a critical mass of people for it to work. How many people in a smaller Jewish community are going to go out on a semi-regular basis, to the same restaurant. You'd get pretty sick of the food pretty quickly.

                                  1. re: PotatoPuff

                                    sorry as I WAS being US-centric, easy to forget

                                  2. re: hill food

                                    Philly and Baltimore both have a decent number of restaurants and bakeries.

                                    1. re: hill food

                                      Eli's is gone.No loss IMO.The last time I was there,January of 2014 it was ?? Our feet stuck to the floor and bags to the table.We left.It had become an embarrassment in many ways.

                                      Char Bar and Eli's Market is their reincarnation a few blocks away.

                                      And still no updates on the "supervision sites" that include mention of Char Bar and Eli's Market.

                                      1. re: lcool

                                        Eli's is gone? no big surprise, I used to work near there and wanted to give it a try, but the windows were so darn dusty (and dusty from the inside) I couldn't imagine anything good.

                                        1. re: hill food

                                          I hadn't been inside since 08' or 09'and did not eat then.The relative I was downtown with,a Rabbi got two vegetable sides to tide him over,airport etc,until he got home.
                                          Your remark about supervision and the captive client is so telling.

                                    2. Years ago I remember that in Europe there were many small communities where there was a small kosher restaurant operated with sponsorship by the local orthodox synagogue/community. In Basel, Switzerland, there was a restaurant operated by a family who also worked for the shul, in a house adjoining the shul. In London, there was a weekday restaurant called something like XYZ Luncheon Club in a shul hall because the neighborhood still had lots of Jewish businesses. Would that work here? It seems to me that in the USA there is no such outlook.... business and community service do not seem to mix as well, although really people want to have local kosher outlets.

                                      1. one of the coolest and fastest growing cities (11th largest in the nation) that completely lacks a proper Jewish deli is AUSTIN TEXAS. Business opportunity if I ever thought of one. I'm not certain of how large our Jewish community is (I'm not Jewish), but to my knowledge not one place sells matzoh ball soup (when done well it's my favorite soup) and it makes my wife and I quite sad.

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: slowcoooked

                                          Most delis aren't kosher, and most kosher restaurants aren't delis :) I've heard good things about the kosher Indian restaurant in Austin, but I doubt they sell matzoh ball soup!

                                          1. re: GilaB

                                            What kosher Indian restaurant in Austin? Madras Pavilion in Dallas is kosher, but who certifies their Austin branch?

                                            1. re: zsero

                                              Madras Pavilion in Austin was kosher at one time but I believe it is not any more. The MP on Kirby in Houston is kosher (HKA) and the one in SugarLand is not.

                                              San Antonio on the other hand has TWO branches of Greens which are both kosher. Houston has one.

                                          2. re: slowcoooked

                                            And a smart businessman looking to capitalize on the lack of deli is not going to open a certified kosher one.

                                            1. re: slowcoooked

                                              There's a kosher deli in the HEB in Northwest Hills (7025 Village Center Dr., take the MoPac Expressway and get off at Far West Blvd). I don't know whether they do soup.

                                              1. re: zsero

                                                My Israeli sister complains that when she travels, instead of getting interesting local food at kosher restaurants, she gets either fake Israeli food, blah "kosher deli" food or pizza.

                                                There is no Texas BBQ in Houston, but plenty of Israeli style food.

                                                1. re: SoCal Mother

                                                  I completely agree with your sister, when I travel anywhere I always try to avoid the unholy trinity of kosher food, Israeli, Deli, and Chinese.

                                                  I'll make an exception if the place is well known for one of them, but when I'm in Texas I want BBQ or tex-mex; when I'm in New Orleans I want creole/cajun; when I'm in France I want French; etc...

                                                  1. re: avitrek

                                                    That's definitely true. My husband likes to joke that whatever city we end up in, in whatever country, we can always count on a meal of kabobs and hummus

                                                    1. re: avitrek

                                                      True. Perhaps the most frustrating place I've ever eaten was the restaurant in Chabad Bangkok. Don't get me wrong, I was grateful that they were there, and would not have been surprised or particularly frustrated if the menu had been limited to the usual pita, schnitzel... But it wasn't. It listed everything you dream of when you know you'll be in Thailand: pad Thai, soups with exotic tropical ingredients, chicken dishes with enticingly described sauces involving coconut milk...

                                                      Moreover you could see the kitchen staff, and they were speaking Thai and certainly looked Thai.

                                                      We got all excited and ordered a wonderful meal. But everyhting we ordered was not available that day, or the next day, or... You get the picture.

                                                      We ate our schnitzel, and our take-out chicken sandwiches for lunch gratefully. The kosher food was there and it was good.

                                                      (For those who wonder, the place is there (or was when I was there a few years ago) to supply comfort food to the young, Israeli post-army crowd who have been traveling for weeks eating local and when they get to Chabad, Bangkok want their Israeli comfort food)

                                                      I have no idea who wrote that menu, or why.

                                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                                        oh Adina - that would be frustrating.

                                                        1. re: AdinaA

                                                          I imagine when they first wrote the menu they thought they would sell a lot more Thai food. Then they found out that they mostly got requests for Israeli style food for the reasons you stated. So that's what they mostly stock.

                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                            We once went to an Israeli style restaurant on Brent Street in Hendon, London. They had the most wonderful multi-page dairy brunch/lunch menu imaginable. Stuffed mushrooms and interesting cheese and vegetable pastries. My husband and I couldn't decide what to order, and settled on a number of selections and planned to share each.

                                                            Not one thing that we wanted was available. Not one. Everything we wanted the "don't have today." The waitress was getting annoyed with us. She explained that this is a very large menu and they can't have all these things available.

                                                            So what did they have? That's right. Pizza.

                                                            1. re: AdinaA

                                                              I ate there in 2002, when they actually served the Thai food on their menu. I no longer remember what we ordered, but each thing was both delicious, and the spiciest thing my friend and I had ever eaten.

                                                              The various Chabads for young Israeli tourists mostly seem to serve the same stuff, the major variation being whether they have easy access to kosher meat or not. My husband and I have occasionally been permitted to order off of the secret meat menu, because we're clearly kosher-keepers rather than non-frum Israelis looking for Israeli comfort food. In Ho Chi Minh City in 2010, after giving a five or six hour heads-up to the kitchen, we were able to order actual Vietnamese food, a hot pot in which we could cook various vegetables and pieces of fish.

                                                              1. re: GilaB

                                                                good to knowand it jibes witho our experience. We have had many trips enabled by Chabad, they really do bend over backwards to help Jewish travelers.

                                                                Although I am too often embarrassed by the travelers (often non Shomer Shabbat, and , therefore, presumably clueless about how difficult it is to run a kosher kitchen Bangkok or Beijing) and who appear to think Chabad is running a commercial service and that they are entitled to demand, berate and treat the Chabad rebbitzen and rabbi like ill-performing slaves.

                                                    2. The whole state of New Mexico. Even the one Jewish deli (in Albuquerque) is not kosher. There are no official stats on the number of Jews in NM, but still, not even one kosher restaurant?

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: ninrn

                                                        Outside of Denver and Phoenix, I don't know of any Kosher restaurants in the whole Mountain time zone.

                                                          1. re: follick

                                                            Tucson has a deli. We were there last July. Loved the soup and burgers. El Paso has a small kosher grocery.

                                                            1. re: follick

                                                              Park City, Utah has a kosher restaurant during ski season

                                                          2. Not sure how "large" you are looking, Kansas City is another without a kosher restaurant.