Restaurant changes name, discontinues menu limits
By SHERYL KAY
© St. Petersburg Times,
CARROLLWOOD -- Although the aroma of freshly sliced corned beef and pastrami still waft through the same door, Jo-el's Delicatessen and Marketplace is no more.
After almost two years, owner Sharon Goetz has changed the name of the restaurant/bakery/grocery to Streets, and discontinued regulation by Rabbinical Supervision. While kosher products are still available, the restaurant will no longer have to adhere to strict Judaic dietary restrictions, such as the prohibition of serving meat and dairy products together.
The decision to offer the expanded menu was purely economical.
"If the first 60 days were indicative of the next 18 months, we would have done extremely well, but that was not the case," said operations manager Beth Gagne.
Jo-el's was patterned after the store with the same name, owned by Ms. Goetz's parents, Ellen and Joel Goetz. That store, in St. Petersburg, has served strictly kosher foods for more than two decades, and will continue to do so.
But after a year and a half, the Goetz's were faced with closing the Carrollwood store, or dropping the tight menu restrictions.
"You automatically assume that traditional Jews follow strict kashruth, but that is not always the case," Joel Goetz said. "Different people observe different levels of kashruth, and there weren't enough here to support the store being strictly kosher."
For Sharon Goetz, the problem manifested itself almost daily.
"You never want to say no to a customer, and we found ourselves saying no," she said, referring to requests that would have violated the kosher restrictions.
"We still have only kosher meat in our fresh meat case, a separate slicer for kosher deli, and market products that are kosher, but instead of using paper goods we can now use china (kosher restrictions prohibit eating dairy and meat with the same utensils and kitchenware), and we can offer so much more in the restaurant."
One major change is in the breakfast menu, which was previously restricted to bagels and smoked fish, and now includes a wide array of omelets, pancakes, Belgian waffles and French toast.
Another key transformation will be seen at the bakery counter at the end of this month, as the south Tampa gourmet bread and dessert establishment will open behind the glass cases as Kalupa's at Streets, and products will no longer require a parve (dairy-free) designation.
Kalupa's at 3828 W Neptune will remain open and unchanged.
"Co-branding is the thing today, and that's what we are trying to do here," said Mike Kalupa, owner of the family run bakery. "They have the ability to manage the restaurant operation, we have the ability to manage the bakery operation, and the customer comes out the winner."
Community reaction to the changes has been mostly positive, Joel Goetz said.
"I've gotten calls from people in the Jewish community who said "Wonderful, you had to do this,' and others who said "I'm sorry you had to do this, but we understand,' " he said. "And yes, I had one person come to see me who said "It's always the God almighty dollar -- what happened to community?' "
"Look, this was not an overnight thought," he said. "We opened with the right intent, and we had great support, just not enough."
Harold Wolf, a retired businessman in Carrollwood Village's Northmeadow, said he will continue to enjoy the restaurant with his wife Mini, a synagogue gift shop manager.
Their home is kosher, but Wolf eats at non-kosher establishments and says that Streets "couldn't be better. I've been coming here since they opened. The service is good, and now the food is even better."
His wife especially enjoys the ambiance. "It's like coming home, a place where people come to meet," Mrs. Wolf said. "The fact that they are not strictly kosher anymore doesn't affect me."
Now, Joel Goetz said, the time has come to go forward.
"I don't want to look-back," he said. "It doesn't serve anybody to point fingers at anybody else. We gave it the best shot we could, the people gave it the best shot they could, and now we are really excited about moving ahead."
Streets, at 11727 N Dale Mabry Highway, is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., seven days a week, and breakfast is served all day. For more information call (813) 964-9299.
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