New York…by Staff Reporters…Should a kashrus agency certify a kosher restaurant that also has a non-kosher restaurant by the same name? For one would-be diner the answer is a clear no as he almost ate at the non-kosher eatery just because a kosher restaurant Web site took him to the site of the non-kosher eatery with only a minor mention buried in the copy that they also have a kosher restaurant. The mistake was ultimately corrected but many who were involved questioned whether the major kashrus organization certifying the restaurant should have given the certification in the first place. A New York area Vaad’s refusal to certify a Dunkin Donuts franchise was criticized by some but the Vaad maintains that there is much that is not kosher in the franchise names that share space with the Dunkin Donuts. The growing role of the Internet as a major source for kosher restaurants is a new reason for tightening up oversight to avoid confusion, say several rabbis reached by Kosher Today. Said one: “I guess agencies and rabbis will now have to check Web sites and links to make sure that there is no confusion.” In as far away places as Buenos Aires, the potential confusion has become an issue. A group of American tourists in Buenos Aires complained that the glatt kosher McDonald’s is in a mall that has several other McDonald’s restaurants despite the fact that the kosher McDonald’s has a large kosher sign in the middle of the logo. The Buenos Aires McDonald’s is the only glatt kosher eatery of the international food icon. The potential for confusion, say kashrus sources, could be an issue with any brand that produces both kosher and non-kosher and even if the same is produced with different kashrus standards. While many were forgiving about the restaurant error, they were also hoping that kashrus certifiers would also take precautions so that such confusions do not occur.
New York…Kosher Today staff reporters…A London businessman who travels frequently to the Big Apple has learned to check a number of key Web sites that cover the kosher restaurant scene prior to leaving the UK. While he has many options, a favorite is www.GreatKosherRestaurants.com, which offers him special discounts as well as the latest updates. In fact, the traveler has of late made reservations on the site. The kosher restaurant Web site is the brainchild of Elan Kornblum, known as “The Restaurant Guy,” who is the president and publisher of the Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine. Another site that also sends e-mails on the latest updates is Koshertopia. The e-mails report on new openings, closures, and even changes of kosher certification. Another world-wide data base of restaurants, popular with many travelers is Shamash.org. These are but a few of nearly a dozen websites and blogs that cover the kosher restaurant scene throughout the country. Kosher restaurant sources say that while the kosher restaurants appear to have weathered the “worst” during the current recession, “they are by no means out of the woods.” The sources say that while many kosher restaurants continue to close in such major cities as New York, Miami and Los Angeles, they seem to be offset by new openings. One kosher restaurateur pointed out that a kosher restaurant always operates “on thin ice” since they are not open on weekends, a traditional profit center for non-kosher restaurants. Some restaurants have banked on a theme that can appeal to a “crossover” audience. It is these constant changes that have made such sites as Great Kosher Restaurants so popular.