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.
Tel Aviv…The closure of the Burger King franchise in Israel left many Americans living in Israel wondering if the chain did its marketing homework. Burger King joined Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s as failed franchises in Israel. The reason given for the closure is almost always that Israelis did not take to the taste of the American foods. In the case of Burger King, the franchisee will rebrand its 52 Burger King stores as Burger Ranch, a more popular local chain. Eli and Yuval Orgad, the franchisees, have owned the Burger King stores since 2005 and bought the 55-unit Burger Ranch chain last year. Other restaurant franchises in Israel (not all of its branches kosher) include KFC, McDonald’s and Subway. Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dominos and Pizza Hut. Idele Ross, Kosher Today’s Israel Bureau Chief, reports that Omri Padan, McDonald’s-Israel CEO said the ‘revolution’ is a McDonald’s Israel strategy which will not change. The chain has 150 outlets in Israel, 30 of which are kosher. Seven new branches are expected to open by the end of 2010. One source told Kosher Today, all Burger King “needed to do was obtain a good hechsher that would appeal to the near 500,000 Israelis of American origin in addition to as many as 500,000 tourists and businessmen.” Burger Ranch is a hamburger chain started by South African immigrants to Israel in the seventies and emphasizes the Israeli preference for local fare over imported American tastes.” All the research carried out over the past few months shows beyond a doubt that the taste of Burger Ranch is the preferred taste for most Israelis,” Orgad directors Eli and Yuval Orgad were quoted as saying in the Hebrew media.