New York – 2016 is still shy of the halfway point and already nearly 25 new kosher restaurants have opened in the Metro New York area, according to Elan Kornblum, the President and Publisher of the Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine (www.GreatKosherRestaurants.com). At this rate, the new restaurant openings would be on par with the 60 that opened in 2015. By comparison, the number of closings was only a fraction of the new launches, begging the question of why the sudden surge, well ahead of the pace in the 2000’s and certainly not even close to the number of annual openings in the 1990’s. This trend has also to some extent been true in cities like Jerusalem, London, and even Paris, but none as significant as the New York area. Kornblum and other kosher restaurant mavens attribute the surge to the emergent lifestyle of younger kosher consumers who are eating out far more than their parents. “The kosher millennials are definitely driving kosher to new heights,” said one journalist who considers himself an expert on the kosher food scene.
Kornblum is not only enamored with the numbers but also of the new trends that includes Smokehouses, Sports Bars, Hibachi, bolder and ethnic cuisines such as Georgian, Indian and Korean. The new age of the kosher restaurateur is not a cook or in most cases not even a chef but a businessman who is investing in what has become a trendy and perhaps profitable enterprise. As for the chefs in the new restaurants, says Kornblum, “they are coming from the non-kosher world, using their expertise and adapting it to kosher.” Some are from Israel while others moved around or get promoted to a higher position in a new restaurant. The rapid expansion of the kosher restaurants, say some experts, must be viewed in the overall context of “the new age of kosher food where great food reigns supreme.”