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Keeping kosher:

Subway finds a proper fit


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Lines are long at the only kosher Subway in North America
Why would anyone drive from Pittsburgh to Cleveland to eat at a Subway? Or, stranger yet, route a trip originating in Toronto to include a pit stop at the Cleveland Subway? After all, with 25,000 Subways in the world, there’s pretty much one on every corner.

But if you’re looking for a kosher meal, there’s only one Subway in North America where you can find it—the Jewish Community Center in Beachwood, Ohio.

“In the kosher-keeping world this news travels fast,” says Debra Posner, director of marketing and communications for the Cleveland Jewish Community Center. “Several people have said they’ve never had fast food before.”

Receiving certification from Cleveland Kosher took about eight months, while building out the 1,400-square-foot restaurant took just three weeks, said Ghazi Faddoul, the franchisee for the location and a development agent for Subway in the Cleveland market.

Faddoul, a Lebanese Christian, was approached by the organization because several other nonbranded food operations hadn’t panned out. Subway was attractive, Posner says, because its healthy food complimented the health center also located in the center.

In addition to menu adjustments—no ham or bacon and only soy cheese, since dairy and meat can’t be eaten together—an Orthodox Jew must be on site every day to open and close the store. Rabbis visit three to five times a day to ensure the kitchen keeps kosher. Since he’s able to split the rabbis’ fees with a catering business on site, the cost is around $450 a month, which Faddoul says he pays “with pleasure.”

Kosher sandwiches are more expensive because the food costs are about 20 to 30 percent higher —about $1 to $1.50 per six-inch sandwich. Each sandwich must be stamped with a kosher stamp, and a kosher sticker must be placed on every bag.

There are about 80,000 Jews in the Cleveland area, Fahhoul says, where a traditional Subway may server a population closer to 12,000-plus, Faddoul says.

Since word of the kosher Subway has gotten out, company spokesman Les Winograd said they’ve received “tons of inquires from people in the system and others asking to open one.”

About the same time the kosher unit opened, a Halaal-certifed Subway opened in New Jersey, catering to Muslims. That version took a little less work, Winograd says, because corporate had more experience thanks to several restaurants already up and serving in the Middle East.

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