Manhattan, NY - New SoHo Restaurant To Serve Prepaid Shabbat Dinners and Nonmevushal Wines
Manhattan, NY - The plans for Jezebel look like many other SoHo restaurants aiming to draw a hip, downtown crowd.
The difference is in the details: A gold-plated shofar will serve as the door handle. Art work will include familiar pieces but with different faces (Woody Allen in a commissioned re-creation of “The Last Supper”). And an Orthodox Jewish overseer will keep a close eye on the kitchen at all times to make sure all’s kosher. Literally.
“We’re looking to change the norm of where the bar for kosher is,” said Menachem Senderowicz, 34 years old, one of Jezebel’s two owners. “We think we can take it up more than two notches and bring it to a whole new level.”
“We want to become the kings of kosher,” interjected co-owner Henry Stimler, 32.
Messrs. Stimler and Senderowicz plan to open Jezebel in June. It is the first restaurant for their group B&Y Hospitality (British and Yiddish, since Mr. Stimler is British and they both speak Yiddish), and they’ve hired James Beard Award-winning chef Bradford Thompson in the kitchen and Nick Mautone, formerly of Gramercy Tavern, to design the drink program.
The duo, who grew up Orthodox but now classify themselves as “modern Jews,” say the kosher aspect of the restaurant is almost an afterthought, albeit a carefully planned one that will include prepaid Shabbat dinners and unpasteurized kosher wine, which can only be handled by observant Jews.
The owners say there is an unmet need for a cutting-edge restaurant for the Jewish demographic that is populating the likes of the nearby SoHo synagogue, but they insist they are not aiming for a predominately kosher or even Jewish clientele.
Jezebel plans to remain open on Friday night and has bought two special CVap ovens that are moisture-controlled and designed to hold products for a long period, Mr. Thompson said.
“We want it to be fresh, like you actually choose what you like that night,” he said. “We’re pushing it as far as we can and still staying within the guidelines.”
Also It is among the first kosher restaurant in the city—and possibly the U.S.—to serve unpasteurized, or nonmevushal wine, which must be handled at all times by a an observant Jew.
Most kosher certification agencies won’t permit this. But Rabbi Aaron Mehlman of the National Kosher Supervision agency on the Upper West Side is willing to give it a try.
“It’s an extra level of attention, and it’s very time consuming,” he said. “You have to have one or two people keeping track of these bottles. It’s also a pilot project. If it doesn’t work, I’m going to cancel it. We’re going to be very strict about it.”
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