Kosher dining in New York has gone up significantly in the past 20 years, to the point where there's nearly as many restaurants classified as kosher as there are French or Indian, according to a new report from Crain's. It's partly pushed by an uptick in the number of Jewish families keeping kosher, and with more competition on the scene, the quality of the food is going up, too, attracting "foodies" to the growing scene. Now, New York is home to nearly 300 kosher restaurants, compared to 316 French and 304 Indian ones.
It's an interesting increase considering kosher restaurants are some of the most difficult operations to run. Cooks can't start working until a mashgiach, or religious supervisor, approves all f the ingredients. Inspecting vegetables alone can take the mashgiach more than three hours. Plus, most restaurants need at least two mashgiach's on staff, which adds at least $100,000 a year in extra labor cost, Crain's reports.
On top of that, kosher restaurants run more limited hours due to Jewish holidays and closed Fridays. One upscale kosher steakhouse, Le Marais, is open about 270 nights week, versus Smith and Wollensky's 365. They each serve about 700 people per day, but Le Marais makes less than a third of Smith and Wollensky's $26 million annual revenue, according to Crain's.
Still, a community of food-loving Jews spreads word quickly when a new kosher spot opens. The Falafel Shop in the Lower East Side saw a 20 percent increase in traffic to the store after it became kosher certified this year, the owner says. Take a look at the full story from Crain's, which goes deeper into how kosher restaurants work.