“Oh no! Please don’t go!” exclaimed one of The Kitchen Table’s 1,700 friends as he read the restaurant’s announcement on Facebook that it is closing on June 3. Open since the spring of 2009, the upscale kosher fleishig dining establishment in Mountain View, California will shut its doors for good after its dinner service on Sunday.
As The Kitchen Table clients logged onto their computers following the Shavuot holiday, they saw the following message:
The Kitchen Table, the premier Bay Area fine dining Kosher restaurant, will be turning the page after it serves dinner on Sunday, June 3rd. We want to thank our wonderful fans and customers for the support they have given us over these past three years. We will be open with regular business hours on Tuesday, May 29th through close of business on Sunday, June 3rd. We hope to see you at our Kitchen Table one last time.
It appears that the restaurant’s attempts to cater to kashrut-observant Jews, and also local Silicon Valley executives and engineers, with a seasonally fresh California-Jewish fusion menu ultimately failed.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that this has happened to Bay Area kosher restaurants. A lack of demand for kosher dining establishments in the Bay Area has been a challenge that few entrepreneurs been able to surmount. With the closing of The Kitchen Table, there is no longer a single kosher fine dining option for those who keep strictly kosher on the Peninsula south of San Francisco (also known as the West Bay). One would need to drive all the way down to Los Angeles to find one. The Jerusalem Grill & Baropened recently in nearby Campbell, but its Israeli food-focused menu and more casual family friendly atmosphere, provides a different kind of dining experience.
Commenting to The Jew and the Carrot on the situation, Rabbi Joey Felsen of Palo Alto noted that “in the past decade, many kosher options have presented themselves to the Jewish community of the South Peninsula and South Bay. The Kitchen Table was a valiant effort in Mountain View, but like many ventures in Silicon Valley, not every model necessarily works in every environment.”
Felsen believes that overall market for kosher food is growing in the Bay Area. “I would not be surprised if we see more attempts to open restaurants, as entrepreneurs test out this emerging market. The founders of The Kitchen Table should be commended for their efforts and for widening the kosher landscape,” he asserted. In other words, Felsen optimistically thinks that although The Kitchen Table may have lost its battle to survive, the war for expanded kosher dining options in the West Bay is far from over.