June 13, 2011

Detroit Joins Big City Kosher Options With New Supermarket Kosher Program

Detroit…Jerry Denha, the owner of three supermarkets in the Detroit area, is very optimistic about his recently reopened Farm Fresh Market in the Oak Park section, where most of the city’s 1200 Orthodox Jewish families live. According to the latest National Jewish Population Study, some 72,000 Jews in 32,000 household live in the Greater Detroit area with nearly 70% indicating that they were connected to the Jewish community, including eating kosher either regularly or occasionally. “The community has always been very good to me and I felt that this was my way of showing appreciation for their loyalty,” Mr. Denha told Kosher Today. The community already enjoys good kosher shopping at One Stop Kosher, which one Detroit resident calls “my connection to Brooklyn,” a reference to the many “heimishe” brands sold there.  He says the store owned by Shloimie Goldman offers the community’s kosher consumers a huge selection of cholov yisroel and glatt kosher products in addition to the well-known kosher brands. But Denha is hoping that his 55,000 square foot store will be a welcome addition to this thriving Jewish community. In fact, his store includes a kosher deli, takeout, fresh meats, fish, and a large selection of kosher wines, all under the watchful eye of the Vaad Harabbonim of Greater Detroit, headed by Rabbi Daniel Neustadt. Denha is encouraged by the “crossover” market of non-traditional kosher shoppers that buy many kosher items, particularly meats, which they consider to be “of better quality.” He explains: “They are so used to reading about quality issues in meats that kosher gives them a level of comfort that they do not receive from ordinary meats.”


In addition to his remodeled kosher store within a store, Mr. Denha is very fond of his kosher catering business, under Chef Cari Hershkovitz. In fact, Chef Hershkovitz is the reason the store’s take-out department is so popular. Trained at the Natural Gourmet Cooking School in New York, Chef Hershkovitz is known for her emphasis on fresh and natural foods as well as her international themes, which in a given week might include Thai, Mexican or Italian. Yet, she is every bit as traditional when it comes to her Shabbos menu, including the seven different kugels she offers her customers each week. Local rabbis are optimistic that the community can sustain the various kosher options, emphasizing that the community has some 25 Orthodox synagogues, several kosher bakeries, and a number of kosher eateries. For kosher consumers, the new kosher program at Farm Fresh gives them shopping options  usually associated with such big cities as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Some kosher shoppers also frequent Costco, which has increased its kosher offerings as well as Mejer’s which also has a respectable kosher set. Interestingly, a large Kroeger’s not too far from the center of the Orthodox community is not following what it has done in many other markets with kosher, carrying only “the bare minimum” of kosher products. While applauding the efforts by Mr. Denha to turn his large supermarket into a key address for kosher, many of the rabbis and community activists interviewed for this article were quick to shower accolades on Mr. Goldman’s One Stop Kosher, who for nearly 14 years has served the community with a remarkable kosher program.