Kosher Grill turned out to be among the most successful stands inside the Wells Fargo Center at the Democratic National Convention.
Ever hear of a Jewish place that ran out of food?
It nearly happened last week at the Kosher Grill, which turned out to be among the most successful stands inside the Wells Fargo Center at the Democratic National Convention.
The lines were as much as 60 deep at one point, taking a half-hour for a hot dog, turkey sandwich or arguably the best pastrami you’ve ever eaten. Mordy Siegal’s Chicago-based operation, which debuted here in February, realized early on it had vastly underestimated the situation.
“Monday, the first day of the convention, we had no idea what to expect,” said Siegal, nearing the end of week in which he estimated he got about eight hours of sleep — total — in a five-day span. “I sent someone to drive the product from Chicago to here, and that product was gone after the first day.
“That day, we did 8 percent of the entire building’s revenue.”
Seeing the demand, Siegal quickly was able to answer the call, enabling thousands of satisfied customers to enjoy kosher food throughout the convention.
And not just Jews.
“First of all, word gets around,” said Siegal, who flew home to Chicago July 27 to open the grill for a soccer game that did more business than the entire convention, then returned here for the final day. “There’s a lot of repeat business. They like our food and they come back, especially during a four-day convention.”
In fact, the Kosher Grill was such a hit that Aramark, which runs food concessions in the building, was thrilled.
“Mordy has been one of our better partners in the building,” said Aramark Concessions Manager Justin Musciano, who gets a portion of the grill’s sales. “He has probably the best pastrami I’ve ever had in the 12 years I’ve been here.
“Typically what happens is a lot of the carts will go through the building. But since it’s a specialty for the Jewish community, we wanted to do something nice for them.”
Indeed, the Jewish community was greatly appreciative.
“They didn’t have anything inside like this in Cleveland at the [Republican National Convention],” said Jake Turx of Ami Magazine of New York. “But the Kosher Grill has been very successful.
“Not only does it address the needs of Jewish attendees food-wise, but it’s also catering to non-Jews as well. The secret is to make good food, and people will buy it. They’re saying eight of 10 patrons aren’t Jewish, which is a tribute to the great job they’re doing and a convenient location.”
As of now, the Kosher Grill has been limited to the Wells Fargo Center, but Siegal and his chief lieutenant, Rob Kandler, are hoping that changes and you’ll be able to get your kosher hot dog at the ballpark — possibly as soon as the Phillies Jewish Heritage Night on Aug. 29.
“We hope Aramark will see how we’re doing because customers would like to see the Phillies have us,” said Kandler, who runs the local operation for the most part, with Siegel in Chicago. “They like the hot dogs because the price is right, and when people get the pastrami they come back — a lot.
“We far exceeded our expectations.”
That will leave Siegal, the brains behind it all, with a memory that will last a lifetime.
“This is something I’ll never forget,” he said, as the convention was winding down. “Not only being at the DNC and being able to service so many people here, but also the fact that the kosher stand at the Wells Fargo Center is the busiest stand in the entire DNC. I take a lot of pride in this. It definitely makes me feel my hard work is paying off in a good way.”
Now will somebody please pass the pastrami.