“Ben’s is staying kosher for as long as there are kosher fabricators or processors.”
That’s the crystal clear message Ronnie Dragoon, founder of the Ben’s Delicatessen chain, had for distressed fans of the kosher eatery. Dragoon said that a recent article in Crain’s New York Business had completely distorted his words when it said Ben’s might drop its kosher certification.
Ben’s, whose flagship location is in midtown Manhattan, is one of the last remaining kosher Jewish delis in the city. (Many Jewish delis, like Katz’s or Carnegie, are “kosher style” and are not certified.) The restaurant also has three locations on Long Island, one north of New York City, and one in Florida. A new location has been announced for Scarsdale (Westchester), and plans are also in the works for locations in Boston and Washington, DC.
Dragoon claimed that the reporter writing the article had asked him specifically what he would do if all kosher fabricators and processors went out of business. His response was he would then have no choice but to “look elsewhere.”
But the article flatly stated that Dragoon was motivated by financial concerns, considering “giving up costly kosher standards to realize his expansion goals.”
As for the article’s claim that Dragoon was testing out a chef who prepared a treif dish?
“The chef had made up a menu for us, so there was a list of ten ingredients, including bacon and cheddar. But he never made that dish… Even if he wanted something non-kosher, he couldn’t purchase it for our kitchen. All of our purchasing is done through the business office. We have ingredient and food-item lockdown.”
So rest assured, kosher deli fans–Ben’s isn’t changing anytime soon.