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Glatt Kosher Restaurants Come of Age
by Menachem Lubinsky, President & CEO of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting and is the founder and co-producer of Kosherfest.

There is something about the new age of glatt kosher restaurants that makes it more exciting than their predecessors. It's that they have steadily moved from the old school of just serving food to what are rapidly becoming venues of fine

dining. New age kosher restaurants understand that a good restaurant is more than good food; it's a combination of atmosphere, themed dishes, creative presentations, cleanliness, and of course, good service.

People are actually spending more time at kosher restaurants nowadays. Diners no longer look for a restaurant that just serves kosher food quickly. It's an opportunity to spend some time with family, friends or business associates. It has given new meaning to the concept of "going out". For many young couples, going out is more than a ritual practiced on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. It is an opportunity to have fun and enjoy a kosher food experience in what is frequently an upscale dining environment.

The new age of kosher restaurants is all about choices, ranging from traditional "home feeling" kosher dishes to international dishes that just happen to be kosher. Jews who were once considered adventurous just for going to a Chinese restaurants are today frequenting Japanese, Thai, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and of course European eating establishments. The expression of "let's do Chinese tonight" has given way to "let's do Sushi" or "let's do Asian." The new age of kosher restaurants is all about diversity which has led to a new generation of kosher restaurants, replete with Asian sushi chefs, salad bars, low carb and diet menus, and unprecedented choices of fish. This new age has taken note of lifestyle changes that demand this diversity.

While the restaurant business in general is notorious for its high rate of failures, remarkably most new kosher restaurants in the past 5 years are surviving that critical trial period. They are well prepared, better capitalized, and seem to understand the importance of marketing and being user friendly, not to speak in investing in a good chef.

Guides like this are driving numbers of people to kosher restaurants. So are newspaper guides and on-line listings and links. Today's restaurant owners understand the priceless value of word of mouth and the importance of marketing. In addition to the many opportunities for listing kosher restaurants, kosher restaurant owners emphasize repeat business, are involved in creative menu making, and look to provide a pleasant and cheerful environment.

Some restaurants are taking advantage of the opportunities

of business dining. More Jewish businessmen are exposing non-kosher business colleagues to kosher restaurants. It is not uncommon anymore for a non-Jewish businessman to return to a kosher restaurant a Jewish colleague may have introduced him to. New age restaurants are shattering the myths of the old age kosher  of chopped liver and stuffed cabbage (many actually still yearn for the classical Jewish foods or for that matter a good pastrami sandwich on club with large pickles).

As a marketer, the changes in the world of kosher dining are

extremely encouraging. Not only is the core population of kosher diners growing; they are more affluent and spending more for good food in a good environment. If anyone needed any evidence of just how dramatically kosher dining has changed, just take a peak at the wine menu with its steep prices for a bottle of wine from around the world. Good wines are after all an integral part of fine dining and kosher is right there.

Geography is yet another sign of the times. Fine dining is no longer limited to New York as some fine kosher restaurants exist in smaller markets all over the country. Nor is the better restaurant only found in places like Manhattan. You can have a great dining experience in the outer boroughs as well.

The growth of the kosher market continues to be the talk of town. Studies show that 21% of all Americans now buy kosher food. While kosher is still not a mainstream cuisine in the classical sense; it is certainly making many heads turn.

Menachem Lubinsky (mlubinsky@lubicom.com) is President & CEO of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting, a major strategic marketing firm. He is the founder and co-producer of Kosherfest, the world's largest kosher food trade show and editor of Kosher Today (www.koshertoday.com), an on-line weekly newsletter on the kosher food


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