Card-Carrying Members of the Tribe Enjoy ‘Kosher Advantage’

By Max Gross

Published December 26, 2003, issue of December 26, 2003.

Do you know Teddy Kahn? Probably not.

That’s why he carries the Kosher Advantage card. Kahn never leaves home without it. The Kosher Advantage card occupies its own special place in Kahn’s wallet, and it is always with him when he eats out.

Now two months old, the Kosher Advantage card works a bit like a kosher incarnation of a Diners Club card. Individuals pay an annual membership fee of $24.95, and then receive a discount of roughly 10% at a growing number — now around 50 — of kosher restaurants, butchers and Judaica shops in New York and New Jersey, as well as a smattering of restaurants in Washington, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

“It seemed to me a no-brainer once I found out about it,” said Kahn, an undergraduate at Columbia University who keeps kosher. “If people keep kosher and they’re working, or families go out to dinner, over the course of 25 meals… you’ll get your money back. That was my rationale.”

The card — a small, white plastic rectangle with the words “Kosher Advantage” emblazoned across the front in blue — is the brainchild of Michael Frankel, who graduated last spring with a degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

“I keep kosher, so it was already in my mindset,” Frankel said. Frankel began thinking about the idea of a kosher discount card over the summer. “There are programs for other [dining discounts] like Diners Club; there aren’t such things for kosher places.”

So, why not start his own?

In August, Frankel, who is toying with the idea of hiring a staff, began drawing up business plans and contacting establishments as well as schools and synagogues to help promote Kosher Advantage. “Some are very open to the idea…. [They] think it’s great,” Frankel said.

Key among Frankel’s plans was getting places outside New York agree to participate. “The New York person traveling in Washington has a place to get lunch,” Frankel said. Currently, all of the card’s holders are New Yorkers, but Frankel hopes to change that. Frankel said that the card has gotten off to a good start.

“People are coming in and showing the card,” said Murray Weltz, who runs Park East Kosher Butcher on Second Avenue. “Not as many as I [initially] thought, but people are starting to” use the card.

But Frankel’s aspiration is not just to save people money or help out restaurant owners. His driving goal is to encourage members to be better Jews. “There’s a whole group of people who eat [nonkosher] dairy out,” Frankel said. “This will be the incentive to keep kosher. They’ll go to place X over place Y.”

The Kosher Advantage card: It’s everywhere Jews want to be.

For a list of businesses that take the Kosher Advantage card, please visit www.kosheradvantage.com.



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