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A Kosher Renaissance?

March 29, 2012 By:
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Beyond Citron and Rose, a minor kosher renaissance seems to be brewing around the region.

The owners of Max & David's have purchased and kashered a former Mexican food truck that could soon be vending smoked brisket sandwiches, wraps, salads, pareve desserts and dairy-free gelato. Most likely, it'll be located somewhere between the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University starting after Passover, said owner Steve Katz. It will also be available for community functions and private events.

"I really want to do things in the kosher world that the non-kosher world has," Katz said, noting the concession stand he opened at Lincoln Financial Field in August and special set-ups for Jewish Heritage nights at Sixers and Phillies games.

His son, Joshua, 30, the company's president and chief business development officer, has launched a Twitter campaign (@MDFoodTruck) to find out what kind of food people want from the truck. "This is basically putting kosher out on the street every day," Joshua Katz said. "Our branding message has always been to engage people to understand kosher better and this is getting it out there."

In Center City, Falafel Bar opened on 15th and Chestnut in early 2011 -- competition for Mama's Vegetarian, Maoz, and a number of other non-kosher falafel stands.

Israelis Eyal Aranya and Yoni Nadav opened an organic burger place, burger.org, last May at Third and South Streets, and made it kosher in August. Since it's harder to get certified organic kosher meat, Aranya said, they sometimes have to compromise with "natural" beef, though most of the other ingredients are still organic. A nearby chicken joint quickly shut down, but the duo came back with a second burger.org on Chestnut and 19th Streets in late January. Though the dust has hardly settled, they're already expanding into New Jersey with one branch expected to open in Margate by mid-April and another in Cherry Hill in May.

"It's definitely going to be new to the Jewish community and they don't have too many places to go," Aranya said.

There might even be an American-style family restaurant on the Philadelphia horizon. David Kushner, the Northeast Philadelphia-based owner of a Dougie's franchise in Deal, N.J., said he's been considering properties in University City, the Main Line and Center City for a second branch that could possibly open by the fall.

Even with Magerman's upscale restaurant in the works, Kushner said, there could still be demand for an affordable, laid-back place to get soups, salads, wraps, burgers, steaks, ribs and so forth -- as he described it, "a kosher version of a T.G.I. Fridays without the bar."

While there would be a small dine-in area, Kushner said, his restaurant would likely focus on catering with a schedule of delivery times to various neighborhoods. "Supermarkets don't deliver, so if you just need lunch for your office, it's a little bit hard to get kosher."

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