May 3, 2018

The Premature Eulogy for the Kosher Dairy Restaurant

It isn’t often that an article on kosher in a secular Jewish publication catches my attention. But when The Forward (April 16, 2018) featured an article with the heading “The Curse of The Dairy Kosher Restaurant in Manhattan,” it gave me reason for pause. While it is true that many in my generation miss Ratner’s on the Lower East Side and Gross’s in Midtown (they were long since replaced by upscale dairy restaurants), I am not sure that I agree with thewriter’s premise that the dairy restaurants are closing because “many Jewish Manhattanites will deign to eat in non-kosher restaurants in dairy but will stick to strictly kosher places for meat.”

This is a very outdated and nonfactual statement that completely ignores the changed demographic where the patron of the dairy restaurant is the same as the patron for the meat restaurant, a younger affluent diner interested in good upscale food. What is a “non-kosher dairy restaurant” anyway? And what guarantee is that there is no contamination between clearly treif food and the so-called neutral kosher foods such as kosher fish? While I am aware of some who eat salads, a baked potato and fish in a non-kosher restaurant, they have always been there, are not counted in the soaring trend of kosher patrons and are certainly not responsible for the closing of a kosher dairy or two.