Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Wall Street’s Kosher Cafe May Be Forced To Close

The owner of a kosher restaurant in Manhattan’s Financial District is blaming Occupy Wall Street for his decision to fire almost a quarter of his staff.

“This movement is not serious,” Milk Street Cafe owner Marc Epstein tells “If it was, they would not want small businesses going out of business.”

The restaurateur made the comments after dismissing 21 workers, and told the website the entire business could go under if the protests don’t end within three weeks. Police barricades have diverted a large amount of foot traffic away from Wall Street since the demonstrations began six weeks ago, and the restaurant has also faced diminished business — a 30% drop, reportedly — due to marches, closed subway entrances and checkpoints.

The restaurant, which is set up as a food court with both milk and meat stations, is one of the largest kosher restaurants in Lower Manhattan and was a welcome option for both kosher and non-kosher keeping diners in the Financial District. Epstein launched the restaurant in June as a second branch of the original Milk Street Cafe, which he’s successfully run in Boston for 30 years.

The restaurant required a $4 million investment to get off the ground, and had seen its customer base grow before the start of the protests. “Now, Wall Street is deserted,” Epstein said. “The only people who walk down Wall Street are people who have to walk down Wall Street. It’s transformed from a beautiful pedestrian mall to a police siege.”

As with everything else connected to the protests, the cafe’s financial plight is the source of dispute. One reader suggested “deliberate NYPD overreaction” was to blame, rather than the demonstrators themselves.

For his part, Epstein says he doesn’t have anything against political activism, recalling his participation in a 1987 Washington, D.C., rally to free Soviet Jewry.

Sadly for his business, the current protestors haven’t needed his kosher offerings — for its first few weeks, at least, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators received sufficient food supplies from elsewhere, including sandwiches from Katz’s Deli. The New York Times described the spread as “not unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement itself: free-form, eclectic, improvisatory and contradictory.”

Wall Street banks have formed the inspiration for the protests, but food fights have snuck into the proceedings in other ways. The banks’ accumulation of an ever-higher share of the nation’s money was likened by Mother Jones to changes in the food industry, which it described, in a eating-minded analogy, as a “big fat monopoly.”


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.