Given that the vast majority of American Jews vote Democrat, one would expect there to be demand for kosher food at the Democratic National Convention. And on that score, the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia does not disappoint: providing throngs of Jews and non-Jews with sausages, pastrami sandwiches, and hot pretzels, is the venue’s Kosher Grill (established in “5776,” as its sign helpfully informs).
During the year, the concession stand caters primarily to fans at 76ers basketball games. But this week, it is serving the attendees of the DNC, in particular Jews and Muslims who cannot get kosher or halal food anywhere else in the arena.
As the only game in town, the grill has become something of a hot spot. Former Senator Carl Levin has been spotted in line. New York Rep. Jerry Nadler has been a repeat customer, as has talk show host Jerry Springer. The proprietors even pressed a complimentary kosher hot dog on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
While most of the arena’s usual subcontractors were not asked to staff the DNC, the convention made an exception for the Kosher Grill, in recognition that its unique service could not be provided by others. As it turns out, plenty of non-Jews appreciated the kosher cuisine as well. “The line was 60-deep at times,” said Rob Kandler, who manages the stand. On the first night of the convention, the grill served 1,000 people.
“No one expected this,” said the stand’s owner Mordy Siegel. “It’s exciting for all of us.”