Kosher Grill turns out everything from hot pretzels to Polish sausage, hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches and, of course, a must-have pastrami hot dog.
After years of futility, definite signs of progress were on display at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 8.
They were also in the air, as anyone walking past the Flyers Experience and the entrances to sections 120/121 on the concourse could attest to during the Sixers’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
No, it wasn’t the smell of victory — The Process continued apace, as the Sixers absorbed a 98-92 overtime loss — but the heady aroma of hot pastrami at the venue’s first-ever kosher food stand.
Kosher Grill — Est. 5776, as its sign proudly proclaims — is the brainchild of entrepreneur Mordy Siegal. The 28-year-old Chicagoan said he chose the center as his first concession outside of the Windy City — he has multiple spots at McCormick Place convention center and Soldier Field, as well as a deli in the city’s French Market — because of its proximity to both the area’s large, underserved Jewish population and Aramark’s world headquarters.
“This way, it’s easy for me to say to the Aramark CEO, ‘Come out and see my operation,’ ” said Siegal, who operates his cart as a subcontractor to the global foodservices giant.
Calling his operation a cart, though, is a disservice. The four employees — Kosher Grill is overseen by Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia — turn out everything from hot pretzels to Polish sausage, hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches and, of course, a must-have pastrami hot dog. They work on a state-of-the-art grill that cooks everything under a hood so small and powerful that, Siegal laughed, the health department inspector had to check the production specifications on it.
While Siegal has yet to decide on which purveyor will be providing him with kosher meats — he is doing a blind taste test this week between New Jersey’s Abel & Heymann and Colorado-based Solomon’s — he has already found ways to make his stand stand out even beyond its already-unique status. In addition to offering a full range of free toppings like sauerkraut, hot peppers and sauces from BBQ to green sriracha, there are no microwaves to be found — and, most impressively, prices are in line with other vendors. Hot dogs are $7.25, and the pastrami sandwich, served on fresh marble rye, clocks in at $11.75 — comparable to other meat-and-bread concoctions on the concourse. And to wash it down: a full line of sodas and beers like Stella Artois, Sierra Nevada and, in a nod to Siegal’s stomping grounds, 312.
“I did this for selfish reasons,” Siegal said. “I’m a sports fan. When someone who is observant goes to a game, they don’t have to watch other people eat while their mouth waters — now they can have mustard all over their face, too.”