January 31, 2011

A Big Kosher Market with a Short Window

Aventura FL…Snowbirds visiting South Florida are always keeping score on the opening and closings of kosher restaurants. This year, generations of kosher devotees who have made Sara’s a must-stop found to their dismay that the eatery had shut its doors for good. Several restaurants found it difficult to maintain their operation for an entire year when the winter season was three months at best. These last few weeks tens of thousands of Easterners descended on Florida and were especially happy to be out of the record-breaking snow accumulations back home. But they also found it a nightmare to shop for kosher or eat in a kosher restaurant. Some complained that the owners were less than friendly in accommodating the throngs while others said that the service left much to be desired. A family of five that had arrived 15 minutes after their reservation time was abruptly turned away.

Especially frustrating to many was that the supermarkets and large club stores totally ignore the presence of what some believe is as many as 100,000 kosher consumers particularly during late January and early February. They are used to stores in New York’s Catskill Mountains that especially cater to vacationers. Some year-round residents were incensed that they had to compete with the snowbirds just to buy food for Shabbos. With the harsh winters back East, it may be time for the food industry here to take notice of what is clearly a huge opportunity. At the very least, food establishments here could learn to be a bit friendlier, with the hope that if customers have a good experience they might just stop-in again come summer time.