Bay Area kosher food woes
One of the only things that the multiple enclaves of Orthodox Jews around the Bay Area have in common is their lack of kosher food. Although there are plenty of kosher caterers around, there aren’t very many restaurants. In fact, if you count the two bagel stores in Palo Alto, the kosher butcher in Oakland that serves sandwiches and the vegan Chinese place in San Francisco that not everyone “holds” of, there are exactly 5. That’s 5 kosher restaurants in an area where there are supposedly a quarter of a million Jews.
It seems as if every few years, there are rumblings of a new venture. Pars kosher market in San Jose is slated to start their deli counter after Pesach and some fellow in Berkeley is working on his kosher food truck. One of the major issues seems to be location. The largest kosher consuming community seems to be in the East Bay, yet the restaurants that open up tend to focus on the more religiously observant communities of Palo Alto and San Jose.
Will East Bay Jews drive 30 miles to get a sandwich? Will folks in San Jose brave the 880 for a slice of pizza? When I speak to people about this need they claim that they will support anything that comes to town, but what does support mean and can the Bay Area Jewish community really support a kosher restaurant? That remains to be answered.
Enter the Popup…
The simple premise is that kosher caterers or chefs can open restaurants for a limited time or even for one day. This saves them from having to rent or own a brick and mortar place until the market allows.
I myself have been thinking pretty heavily about a popups, they are not a huge moneymaker, but they do provide the community with an alternative option for kosher food and they also provide a sort of brand awareness that you can’t get from a regular catered event. However, the issues arise when you have to figure out what kind of location, what kind of food and what kind of price point. I feel that a kosher popup should be accessible to the entire community, that families should feel welcome.
It’s a work in progress of course and if you know anyone who’d like to host, sponsor or help with such an event, shoot me an email.