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Jun 3, 2014 07:48 AM

fumio in livingston, nj without a heksher

The Vaad Harabonim of MetroWest announces to the general community that its kosher certification relationship with Fumio Grill and Sushi located at 21 E. Northfield Road in Livingston, and its associated entities "Your Bite of Heaven" as well as "Feinschmecker" caterers and products, will end at the close of business today, May 30, 2014.

Fumio then announced they would be under the Va'ad of Flatbush. Someone called Rabbi Meir Goldberg, Kashrus Administrator of the Vaad Harabbanim of Flatbush, and asked him if his organization is providing supervision of Fumio Grill and Sushi and its associated entities/brands, Your Bite of Heaven and Feinschmecker.
Rabbi Goldberg informed me that the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush, the kosher supervision unit of the Vaad Harabbanim of Flatbush, is NOT providing supervision. He further stated, if that situation changes in the future, the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush’s Kashrut Certification would be displayed at Fumio. Fumio then posted We were unintentionally presumptuous in announcing to the public that we were going to be supervised by The Vaad of Flatbush. We will be closed while we seek an acceptable, nationally recognized kashrus organization to oversee our operations. Please accept my personal apologies caused by my actions."

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  1. Where did Fumio post their closure & apology?
    Thank you, & Chag Sameach!

    1 Reply
    1. re: josh19051

      all the information about this was on west orange shuls. The cost for Metrowest supervision which they were under is small I believe appx $300/month. As for a nationally recognized hashgacha, I am unsure why they would need it. It is not as if people travel to Livingston for vacation. People from Bklyn are generally not travelling to Livingston to eat out when there are so many great places nearby, Kessler rehab is nearby. But if people investigate the Va'ad of Metrowest they would see it is a good heksher since they certify all other kosher establishments in the area and that the Rabbis are quite reputable as well..And I agree that Va'ad of Flatbush is not nationally recognizable

    2. I wonder why they lost their hechsher to begin with.

      9 Replies
      1. re: tamarw

        given the history above I suspect as is very often the case, they probably were seeking a more economically viable supervision then the one they currently were engaging, often these situations are dictated by cost savings desires rather than substantive kashrut issues.

        1. re: seikoloco

          I can only say that I doubt that costs had anything to do with this move as they have clearly stated that they are looking for a globally recognized kashrut brand rather then just the local Rabbanim. I can tell you from experience that the big names are more $$$ both for the yearly fees as well as a much higher minimum wage requirement for the approved Mashgichim. That was certainly the case when I switched from Vaad of Riverdale to the STAR-K years ago.

          1. re: gotcholent

            Yep, and knowing the owners, they're not strapped for cash...

            However, I think your issue is different, Ari - you are a traveling type :) Fumio is local to Livingston, NJ. Why not use the local rabbis if they're not planning an expansion...unless they are?

            Still, being without a hechsher for any given time is a bit questionable. Switch hechshers first, not afterwards.

            1. re: tamarw

              Yes, so what happens now that did not did have any supervision presumably for a period of time? Will the new supervising agency, whomever it is, require they kasher the kitchen, through out all cereamic plates etc. Curious how that works, does anyone know? How can the new supervisors rely on what was done before, and what occured in the period there was no supervision?

              and Vaad of Flatbush is "nationally recognized" I thought that meant along the lines of Star k, OK, OU etc.

              1. re: tamarw

                where would they expand to? They did expand to the local shoprites to do their take out dept

                1. re: koshergourmetmart

                  That's exactly my point. No reason to change hechshers then.

                  @Ari and that's fine, but they have no hechsher at all right now....which raises eyebrows.

                2. re: tamarw

                  They seem to be building their catering divisions, and I can tell you that when it comes to large jobs for the sort of AIPAC, Israel Bonds, national/international organization, someplace locally known and trusted like the vaad of flatbush is not a nationally recognized brand. When we switched from the Vaad of Riverdale to the STAR-K (aka Vaad of Baltimore) we had to kasher anything I wanted to keep and in some rare instances there were things that simply could not be kashered and did not make the cut. The same has been the case when purchasing equipment from closing kosher institutions. Different Vaads have different rules and allownaces, the Vaad of Riverdale allowed me as an owner to be my own mashgiach, it's this very same allowance that is a major reason that the STAR-K does not allow us to use them in the first place. Switching is a tough process, like moving into a new home. But if these guys plan on further expanding their catering brands, it's a good move IMO. Wish'em luck.

                  for the record, I own and operate a kosher catering company and have no relation to Fumio or it's peeps.

                  1. re: gotcholent

                    The Vaad of Riverdale allowed you to be your own mashgiach? That sounds very surprising.

                    1. re: CWY

                      According to Shulchan Aruch one does not need a mashgiach present if the owner is on premises and is personally observant of halacha. Local vaadim often accept this since they will know the owner personally. The major organisations usually want a mashgiach temidi in a restaurant because they need uniformity of standards and feel that requires a mashgiach in every place. The OU applies this even to dairy places with Shomer Shabbos owners, the other major providers only to meat.

          2. Fumio Grill & Sushi in Livingston, NJ is now under the Orthodox Supervision of KOA and Rabbi Shloima Isaacson. Not to debate validity of kosher agencies but is this is a nationally recognizable kosher agency?

            10 Replies
            1. re: koshergourmetmart

              Recognizable and acceptable are two different things. Many would recognize the hechsher; not as many would accept it.

              1. re: queenscook

                FWIW, according an email I've seen from the cRc, KOA is only acceptable on a case by case basis (this was in response to a question about a different restaurant. KOA also, TTBOMK, appear on other agencies "acceptable" list.

                But, like all things, ask your LOR.

                1. re: DeisCane

                  they posed on westorange shuls

                  The K.O.A. is a nationally known, well-respected hashgacha. As always, Fumio Grill and Sushi will have a full time mashgiach temidi on premise and will be subject to multiple weekly visits from the K.O.A. supervisors. Most products that were accepted by the local Vaad are also acceptable to the K.O.A. Kevin Lipka, the restaurant owner states “The K.O.A. is a good fit for us. As far as kashrus, nothing has changed. If you trusted us before, you can trust us now. A nationally known hashgacha is well inline with our growth plans for the future and the K.O.A. is the perfect partner.”

                  the two telling things from his comments are
                  "Most products that were accepted by the local Vaad are also acceptable to the K.O.A." meaning to me that there were products not acceptable to the Va'ad are acceptable to KOA and "If you trusted us before, you can trust us now." If that is the case why are you no longer with the Va'ad?

                  1. re: koshergourmetmart

                    I think that phrase means the opposite of your interpretation. it means most products were accepted by both, and some products accepted by the Vaad were not found acceptable by KOA. .

                    1. re: koshergourmetmart

                      "the two telling things from his comments are
                      "Most products that were accepted by the local Vaad are also acceptable to the K.O.A." meaning to me that there were products not acceptable to the Va'ad are acceptable to KOA "

                      You've got that backwards.

                      " and "If you trusted us before, you can trust us now." If that is the case why are you no longer with the Va'ad?"

                      There could be all sorts of reasons. Including, perhaps, that the new hechsher is *more* reliable than the old one. (No idea whether this is the case, but there's no reason it shouldn't be)

                      1. re: zsero

                        first the va'ad of metrowest is quite reliable. they give kosher supervision to numerous restaurants in the livingston/west orange community. Second, a restaurant that announces publicly that they are under a va'ad when they are still negotiating with them is to me is not a sign of trustworthiness.

                        1. re: koshergourmetmart

                          Whether they are reliable or not is irrelevant. You quoted them saying "If you trusted us before, you can trust us now", and asked "If that is the case why are you no longer with the Va'ad?" I gave you some reasons. Including, perhaps, that the new hechsher is *more* reliable than the va'ad. Your telling me that hte va'ad is reliable does not contradict that. So what did you add by saying it?

                          1. re: zsero

                            the story around our community (I live in WO) is that there were some kashrut issues before they stopped being certified by the va'ad.

                            1. re: koshergourmetmart

                              So they lost the va'ad and have found another. I see this almost like a supplier swap. One can hope that they've taken care of whatever issues there were.

                2. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Guess that didn't last long. Just read this on GKRM.

                    Fumio Grill & Sushi in Livingston, NJ Has Closed and is up for Sale
                    The restaurant as well as their catering company is available for sale as a turnkey operation.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: tamarw

                      What an unfortunate chain of events

                      1. re: noya

                        not really. there was no trust in the Metrowest Community because of their past actions.

                        1. re: koshergourmetmart

                          I *completely* understand, but there's not much in Livingston, so it's still unfortunate for the residents there.

                          1. re: tamarw

                            Restaurant Redemption just did a show about Fumio post losing their certification.

                            1. re: koshergourmetmart

                              I'm watching it right now and came in chowhound to post!

                              1. re: marissaj

                                But how is he now selling it as a glatt kosher restaurant?

                                1. re: marissaj

                                  here is the synopsis
                                  Last night's Cooking Channel episode of “Restaurant Redemption” brings chef Ching-He Huang to Livingston, New Jersey to help revive a failing restaurant. Ching went to see Kevin Lipka at this high-end kosher restaurant and sushi bar. He was tired of traveling to the city for kosher food and decided to open one close to home. He expected to be able to just enjoy the food without much work and hired Abie Bilgoray as the general manager. A few weeks later, Fumio lost their certification as kosher without explanation and now they are close to shutting down. Kevin has been treating the restaurant as his personal dining room with family and friends and does little else to keep it going. When Ching arrived, she was told by production that Kevin was about to sell the restaurant. She is not about to invest her time and effort for nothing and made Kevin promise that he would do his best to keep it going.

                                  When Ching looked at the interior, she found discrepancies in the décor. The sushi bar was impressive, but the menu was a mishmash of items that did not work well together. When she tasted a sampling of the menu, everything was too salty, but the sushi was delicious. Abie then told Ching that for two years in a row they won best kosher sushi restaurant. She asked why they were not capitalizing on that award.

                                  When Kevin stated that the kosher supervision is very expensive and his option may be to just go non-kosher, Abie told them he would not be able to work there. Kevin is a non-traditional Jew, but Abie is orthodox and his religious beliefs prevent him from working in a non-kosher environment. Kevin had no other choice and Abie had no choice but to leave the restaurant. Now with no general manager, Kevin will be taught to run the place. When Ching took certain items off the menu, Kevin objected and stated that he liked those dishes. When Ching stated that it was about the customers, Kevin affirmed that he cared more about himself.

                                  Ching made a delicious sea bass and both Kevin and the chef liked it. She made a large platter of food that was for a table of four. Kevin felt that it was too much work for his customers. When Kevin and the staff was brought into the new redesigned restaurant, they loved it, but Kevin was hesitant to say a word. When it was time to open, Kevin was nowhere to be seen, so Ching opened it. He showed up and came back in to let Ching know that it was her vision and not his. When she asked him if he cared about the people who worked for him, he told her they do not care about him, just their pay checks. He told her he was not staying there for her to talk to him this way then walked out again. Shortly after filming ended, Fumio Grill closed and was put up for sale; with no thanks to Ching and her crew of Restaurant Redemption.

                                  1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                    Right, I am getting emails from a site called Kosher Media saying the restaurant is Glatt Kosher and is for sale. I am so confused.

                                    1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                      Man, I want to see this! I'm bummed I missed it. Doesn't look like that episode is airing anytime in the next 2 weeks.

                        2. re: tamarw

                          I just saw this episode and it was utterly absurd. In the beginning of the episode this guy lipka was wearing a kipa and said he treated the restaurant as his private dining room. 15 minutes in the kipa is off and he's ready to chow down on treif what. the. heck?? why did he make it kosher to begin with. the show would have been much, much more interesting if it honestly dealt with how to deal with the challenges of making a kosher restaurant better. the vast, vast majority of kosher restaurants are both horrible and overpriced. unfortunately most of the clientele doesnt know any better or just doesnt care.

                          1. re: motti

                            that is not the point of the show, the point is to save a restaurant that needs help not to give the audience a tutorial in this case how a kosher restaurant works etc.