Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

An Orthodox Executive At OpenTable Can’t Eat At 99.99% Of The Restaurants On His App

Joseph Essas, the chief technology officer of the restaurant reservation and take-out app OpenTable, is an Orthodox Jew. That means he keeps kosher, which means he can only eat at about 30 of the 55,000 restaurants that use his company’s app, Business Insider reported.

It has led to some awkward situations when restaurants try to accommodate his dietary restrictions — especially because keeping strictly kosher means you can only eat food prepared in a kosher kitchen, which any restaurant without kosher certification wouldn’t have.

“I’ve had [kosher] airline food brought in the fanciest restaurants in the world,” he said at a recent event in New York. “I’ve had people serve complete traif [non-kosher] and say, ‘This is kosher.’ I’ve had people bring ham and say, ‘This is kosher.’ I’ve had it all.”

In order to minimize the awkwardness, Essas will sometimes tell the waiter he can’t eat anything in the restaurant because he’s on a special diet.

He also makes a point to be home for Shabbat.

“We have offices everywhere in the world, so I travel a lot. But I’m always home for Shabbat, never miss it,” he said. “I feel Shabbat is a gift we have that others haven’t figured out yet, how important it is to just disconnect and spend time with your family, and that it allows us to do so.”

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman


  • Events

    Haart to Haart


    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.