Thursday, May 13, 2010

NOT A TEARFUL GOOD-BYE TO KOSHER SUBWAY



Kosher restaurants are really no different than non-kosher restaurants; other than the food that is. The places often open and close in the blink of an eye. I am never surprised. I have owned 3 kosher restaurants in Chicago and Mid-town Manhattan. I know what goes into running a restaurant and all the behind the scenes drama that folks never get to see. I also know the heart and soul that chefs and owners pour into their restaurants. We even refer to our restaurants as “infants”, “toddlers” and other familial names. I had visions and plans for my restaurants and worked from dawn and well into many nights in an all out effort to make my “babies” into something I could be proud of. I think I largely succeeded and do not have serious regrets. I would tweak things now if I were back in the saddle again-but I would not change much.

Several years ago I wrote a blog post about Kosher Subway shops opening in Los Angeles and New York. David Saks-author of SAVE THE DELI picked up on my fairly negative post regarding the Mazel Tov wishes of a advertisement I saw in LA regarding a new Kosher Subway shop that was about to open in LA.
I was puzzled and even angry that there was so much buzz and anticipation for the shop.
I wrote another post last fall regarding some reviews by diners and the kosher Subway in Miami http://www.lauraskosher.com/2009/09/sandwich-summit.html.

Today I just read that several kosher Subway shops are closing in New York and several weeks ago I heard a rumor that a local shop in Chicago may not be long for this world either. Usually when a kosher restaurant, or any other for that matter, closes I am sympathetic. I know that someone had a dream and for whatever reason it did not work. Kosher Subway shops closing-I am just annoyed. I am annoyed that the level of kosher dining establishments has sunk to an all new low. I am annoyed that people do not seem to know better about food (the food is not homemade people-it is schlepped in from some soulless commissary) and I am annoyed that everyone was so excited in the first place but then were clearly not won over by the corporate, cheap food. It is kind of pathetic that we even allowed to be a part of our lives in the first place.

When I eat-I want it to be: interesting, an experience, adventurous (in the good way!), homemade, delicious, and most of all soulful. Food should have some spirit in it. The essence of a dish starts in someone’s mind and palate. It is practiced and rehearsed dozens of time before it ever hits the dining room.
Many times-I joined waiters out to the dining room with a new menu item to make sure the guest properly received it and thoroughly loved it. I have stood next to tables listening to rants and raves on menu items. And yes-I really listened and took each comment to heart-the good and the bad.
I remember a customer who told me that my hamburger had no soul. I took his plate back to my kitchen and inspected the offending item. He was right. The fat content was weak, the meat had toughened from too much kneading and the poor thing needed SALT and PEPPER. After that night-each burger was loving patted together, not pressed, the fat was carefully weighed to insure a juicy, tender burger and we used expensive sea salt and freshly ground pepper to form a delicious crust. Is there anyone at Subway fretting over the products? I challenge Subway customers to walk in and ask to see the chef. Ask to speak to the owner to tell them that the Steak and Cheese sub is not up to par (Either the steak or the cheese are not real folks-your guess as to which one).

I am asking all my fellow kosher diners to join me in my quest for good, soulful dining. I want only the best each time I dine. I simply will not put up with poor quality haphazard food. Neither should you.

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