Ben's iconic deli in midtown Manhattan is kosher. That's a given, certainly to all the clientele slavering over its corned beef and other sandwiches, with a side of slaw. It's also the rule at the other five Ben's outlets in New York and Florida, but it may not be a given much longer, Crain's New York Business reports.
Its owner, who is not named Ben but Ronald Dragoon, wants to expand and to do so economically, he's thinking of losing the deli chain's hallmark kashrut. As he told Crain's, he personally does not tremble at tref, though he avoids the dread swine and shellfish too. More to the point, maintaining a kosher establishment is costly, and not all establishments styling themselves "deli" adhere to Jewish dietary laws.
Not only might Ben's not need the rabbis any more: it may not need the banks to expand, based on plans to tap the private-equity market, said company president Scott Singer. And by expand, he doesn't mean one or two more outlets: he's thinking of six more outside New York and that's just for starters.
Dragoon opened his first Ben's in 1972, with his father Ben. If the chain loses its kashrut, it won't have been the first: Katz's, another famous deli, may remain a "Jewish deli" but that doesn't mean it's kosher any more.