Navigate to News section

A Pop-Up Restaurant in Downtown Cleveland Brings Kosher Cuisine to the GOP Convention

A unique venue has been conjured up to serve a motley crew of Jews

Yair Rosenberg
July 19, 2016
Image courtesy of the author.
Image courtesy of the author.
Image courtesy of the author.
Image courtesy of the author.

Republican Jews may find much to be desired in their party’s nominee this election, but they won’t be going hungry during his coronation. From fried chicken to boneless ribs to bagels, a wide variety of kosher fare is available at a pop-up restaurant just minutes away from the Quicken Loans Arena, where the Republican National Convention is taking place.

A joint project of the Chabad of Downtown Cleveland and the local Chef Dave’s catering service, the restaurant has become a hub for kosher-keeping delegates, aspiring political candidates, and an array of Jewish activists and journalists. At one table, you might find Yoni Appelbaum, the Washington bureau chief of The Atlantic, discussing anti-Trump efforts on the convention floor with New York congressional candidate Phil Rosenthal. In another corner, Israeli journalist Tal Schneider huddles with American Jewish correspondent Jacob Kornbluh. (Jared and Ivanka Trump, however, have yet to be spotted.)

“We had conversations with a couple of nice delegates, it was really cool,” said Ranan Steiger, a 16-year-old high school junior who is staffing the joint. “To me, being able to go [to the convention] and being able to work while doing it is amazing.”

The restaurant offers offers sit-down breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with prayer services during the morning and afternoon. Take-out options are also available.

The Chabad has provided food for commuting young professionals before, but never in this form. “We didn’t have a pop-up restaurant, we did food deliveries,” said Chabad director Rabbi Yossi Freedman. Four years ago, Chabad in Tampa provided a delivery menu for the 2012 RNC, but was located far from the actual convention center. In setting up their own venue, Freedman and his staff sought to do even better. By taking over a prominent space in the heart of downtown Cleveland, he said, “we’re kind of investing money in this, taking a little gamble, but we’re here to service the people.”

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.