September 6, 2011

Preparedness and Contingency Planning Key for Kosher in Aftermath of Irene

New York…The kosher food industry emerged in relatively good shape following Hurricane Irene that walloped a good part of the region. Despite stories of power outages, trucks under water, and delayed food deliveries, the kosher food community was back in business by mid-week, KosherToday found. Several stores with back-up generators were able to keep their refrigeration operational even in the face of power outages. Proper preparation seemed to be a key factor in weathering the storm. “In anticipation of Hurricane Irene, Gourmet Glatt made sure to overstock all pertinent supplies for our customers in case of a disruption in distribution,” said Yoeli Steinberg of Gourmet Glatt Emporium in Cedarhurst LI. In addition to expanded store hours in advance of Irene, the store provided thousands of bottles of water and challah rolls to several designated area shuls that were set up as emergency shelters. At the newly opened Seasons supermarket in Queens, Managing Owner Mayer Gold considered himself fortunate, simply noting: “We prepared and nothing happened.” Abraham Banda, owner of the upscale Pomegranate supermarket in Flatbush, said that his store experienced “no disruption whatsoever.” Banda compared the shopping rush in advance of the storm to “a 3 day Yom Tov (holiday).”

Elan Kornblum, "The Restaurant Guy" who is president and publisher of the Great Kosher Restaurants Magazine, received a mixed response from some of the region’s leading kosher restaurants. For Josh Berkowitz of Eden Wok in New Rochelle, Irene caused “two power surges, one of which knocked out our static IP box which messed up all the computers but that was about it in terms of damage and loss.” Tammy Cohen of Eighteen Restaurant in Manhattan experienced what many restaurants did, an inability to get staff to work despite being open. The family pitched in and Sunday turned out to be an extremely busy day. Brocha Silverstein of Dougie’s in Brooklyn “opened only for dinner on Sunday with partial kitchen staff due to no transportation.” She and her children served as waiters. Some like Jacob Nahon of Estihana in Manhattan had to close because they could not come up with the staff. Binem Naiman, owner of Glatt ala Carte in Boro Park, suffered only a leaky roof but he benefitted from a surge in business after the storm “just like after the big snow storm we had in the winter.” Naftali Abenaim of Mocha Bleu in Teaneck, NJ had power while his clientele did not. “Actually we were the only kosher restaurant open on Sunday and were packed all day. Monday was also very busy because residents still had no power, and we did not lose power at anytime. Power or no power, Albert Bijou of Down to Earth in Deal NJ stayed open. “We used two gas generators, one for the computers and lights, one for the refrigerator.” Most of the restaurants seemed to have ample supplies and were not affected by the temporary delay in deliveries. If the industry learned anything from Irene it is that there is no substitution for proper planning and preparedness in advance of major weather events.