An effort to bring a single kosher restaurant to Manhattan’s Lower East Side has failed–for now.
The Seward Park Co-op Board, which owns and manages the space vacated last fall by the kosher Noah’s Ark Deli, voted to lease the space to the (unkosher) Comfort Diner.
“The board anguished over this decision, and we really did try our best,” said co-op general manager Frank Durant to the LoDown blog.
The board had been heavily pressured to lease the space to another kosher restaurant. Efforts included an online petition and personal appeals from Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly. The board had a proposal for the space from Long Island-based kosher chain Holy Schnitzel.
But in the end, said Durant, Comfort Diner presented the best “overall package,” suggesting a “family-friendly, neighborhood-friendly place.”
Noah’s Ark closed for the High Holidays last year, and never reopened. It was eventually evicted for owing six figures in rent. The restaurant’s flagship location still remains in Teaneck, NJ.
The closure left the neighborhood without a full-service kosher restaurant for the first time in at least a century. In the late 19th and early 20th century, New York’s Lower East Side was the epicenter of Jewish life in the country, and kosher eateries could be found all over. But the decline of kosher observance in general–and the flight of Jews from the city to the suburbs–has shuttered almost all of them, including on the LES.
Ira Freehof, who operates the Midtown East Comfort Diner, told the Jewish Daily Forward that the new location’s menu might contain “a few nods to the neighborhood.”
“We might have cheese blintzes from my grandmother’s recipe on the brunch menu. There may be matzo-ball soup instead of chicken noodle,” he said.