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Why Are So Many Kosher Restaurants So Bad?

Statistics and perspectives about why so many kosher restaurants are so bad, including insights on how they are operating against a “stacked deck” in more ways than just the added cost of kosher certification.

It is no secret that the restaurant business is notoriously difficult to see success in. After all, a sizable portion of restaurants fail within their first year of operations, with some stats claiming as many as 60% fail and don’t make it to their anniversary, while 80% don’t make it to five years.

Kosher restaurants, while perhaps benefiting from a niche and concentrated clientele, have several sizeable handicaps above and beyond the standard challenges. Tablet Magazine explores both the obvious and the less obvious challenges of kosher restauranteurs and the downstream effects of the difficulties resulting in “sub-par service, bad food, exorbitant prices, and an overall bad experience.

Some of the more interesting tidbits include the following:

  • Unless a kosher restaurant is offering in-house Shabbat and/or holiday meals, they are only open approximately 200-and-change days out of 365 because of Shabbat and other Jewish holidays.
  • “…you have to buy your meat and vegetables from kosher-certified companies, which are basically little mobs, as they can raise their prices however much they want, and you’re still obligated to purchase from them.”
  • “According to a 2016 article in Crain’s, having two full-time mashgiachs on staff can cost upwards of $100,000 a year.”
  • Most kitchen and wait staff waiters want a job where they can work on Fridays and Saturdays—historically, the busiest and most tip-heavy days for a restaurant, but most kosher restaurants are closed on Friday and Saturday. This dynamic “automatically lessens the quality of the staff” as well as increases the pay that must be given.

To account for these realities and additional expenditures, kosher restaurants may end up cutting corners, such as service and food quality, as well as the holy grail, raising prices. All that said, due to the limited number of kosher options, Jewish diners seem to keep coming back.