New York – When the kosher stand at the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (Terminal 3) abruptly closed several weeks ago, some kosher food experts expressed doubt about the future of kosher availability at airports. In fact, Kosher Today found that many airport concessions in several major airports were in discussion with potential kosher suppliers. Although the Delaware North Company, which operates the catering concessions a Ft. Lauderdale, failed to explain the closure, most experts said that the company was simply not meeting the projections. According to one online post: “The company is privately-held, and is owned by Mr. Jeremy Jacobs, who also owns the Boston Bruins ice hockey team. For the record, Mr. Jacobs is Jewish.” In fact, Delaware North provided the glatt kosher meals in the luxury boxes at Met Life Stadium during the large Siyum Hashas (completion of the Talmud) celebration in 2012. The real issue, say the experts, is finding the right model of service. Herman Franczoz of the Franczoz Baking Corp. in Brooklyn had unsuccessfully tried to serve kosher at the Hudson News concession at Logan Airport. “What is critical is that the concessionaire be educated in kosher; otherwise they will be serving bread on Passover,” said Mr. Franczoz. He also opined that concessions like Hudson need to actively promote their kosher offerings. Hudson is believed to be one of the large concessionaires that is in discussion to provide the kosher fare.
The most successful supplier of kosher foods at airports is Hackensack NJ based Fresko, which in addition to offering kosher sandwiches at many locations in all three New York metro airports also features the only glatt kosher concession at Newark’s Liberty International Airport. Fresko is one of the few USDA approved facilities to prepare the kosher fare. Certified by the Star-K Kosher Certification and the Tartikover Bet Din, Fresko offers a variety of wraps, sandwiches, salads and snacks. The foods are sold as CIBO, Fresko, Yummy’s or Box Chef. Erik Gross of Fresko reveals that most of his customers (as much as 70%) are not your traditional kosher consumers. “They pick up the sandwiches and when they see it’s kosher actually feel good about their purchase.” Others in the industry agreed that the kosher food does better when kosher is not necessarily flagged with some saying that Ft. Lauderdale’s kosher concession should not have identified the stand as kosher. “Just have a kosher stand,” said one traveler. “We’ll find you and word of mouth will do the rest, but at least the stand will make money from all customers,” said one local kosher restaurateur in Miami. What is certainly not open to debate is the soaring number of kosher travelers at major airports. One rabbi said: “It is imperative that our community support these programs by making sure to buy the food whenever they travel.”