We’ve been quietly implementing processes and guidelines in our kitchen to make our bagels kosher-friendly, and we’re almost ready to launch officially!
If you’ve been following us for a while, you may know that we’ve worked with Rabbi Barry Dolinger from Congregation Beth Sholom (Providence) twice before to do kosher production runs. In the past, going kosher for a single day required a week’s worth of coordinating, thorough training with the staff and several visits from the Rabbi (which we don’t mind because Barry is a super cool guy). We didn’t mind the prep, even though it was very exhausting because we take good care in respecting the rules and avoiding cross-contamination in a kitchen that sees a lot of bacon.
We stopped doing kosher days because it just wasn’t fun for me. Some customers would try to hoard the bagels by buying 2-3 dozen at a time and argue with us when we placed limits, and others would argue with us that they’re not “really kosher.” I don’t want to get caught in the middle of a tricky debate around a topic that I am really unqualified to discuss, nor do I want to be the object of the Internet’s fury about rationing bagels… so, disappointed with the monster I had created, I pulled the plug on kosher days.
Despite all this, I have remained friendly with Rabbi Barry and supportive of his congregation, and I recently asked myself if this can of worms is worth re-opening. We want to pay our respects to the Jewish community whose foods we adore. If we can make small tweaks and increase access to our neighbors who keep kosher while minimizing disruption to our operations, we should try. I feel compelled to try this again, incorporating the lessons we have learned, and perhaps it will be a win-win this time around!
We will never be able to make our full menu and operations kosher without making really drastic changes that are not in the plans for us. So we are not considering making kosher bagel sandwiches, for example, because we’re not going to stop serving bacon and sausage. But I thought the actual baking process could be isolated, and with proper care, we could offer kosher bagels every single day.
Rabbi Barry did a consultation with Michele, our production lead, a few weeks ago. We made some small investments so we can have a separate set of kosher tools. We’re also going through an insane deep-cleaning of the kitchen to give us a fresh start. The team is practicing the art-science of keeping kosher and non-kosher tools separate during use, cleaning things in the right way and avoiding cross-contamination.
We don’t have a firm date yet for the kosher bagels roll-out but I am pushing hard for it to happen by mid-April, and the team is preparing for that timeline too. So soon enough, you’ll be able to buy kosher bagels to take and prepare at home! If all goes well, we have a few menu items that we’d like to offer as kosher products, like cream cheese and lox. Stay tuned!
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