New York – Some latter-day Biblical critics have suggested that Jews and deli may have been the 11th Commandment. Broad generalities aside, given the Jewish fondness for pastrami on club and its sandwich siblings, who would think that a kosher Subway franchise in a heavily Jewish neighborhood could be a bad idea?
Alas, reality is bitter. Two kosher versions of the national restaurant chain have failed in this region. A Subway on Ave. J in Midwood, blocks from the real subway, closed months ago; the other, on Central Avenue in Cedarhurst, shut last month.
“A lot of that is related to our inability to take advantage of the economies of scale,” explained Les Winograd, a spokesman for Subway. Each restaurant is individually owned but franchisees tap into the collective buying power of 23,000 stores in the U.S., said Winograd. That is of limited value to kosher stores.
“With kosher locations we have to source kosher products from suppliers that are in the region, and so they only might be providing food for a very small number of locations,” he said. “Also, for a kosher store to be operating, it has to follow local rabbinical supervision and go to a different supplier than one in another area.”
Israeli-born Avi Paner, who bought the Subway franchise on Central Avenue in November and closed it in April, learned the hard way. For his troubles, Paner blamed the Vaad HaKashrus of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway.
“They destroyed my place,” he lamented, claiming that the Vaad didn’t like the idea of a kosher Subway and spread rumors that the store was not kosher.