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A survey collecting information about the market for kosher restaurants in St. Louis is now open to the public at GatewayKosher.com. This 18-question, five-to-seven-minute questionnaire enables members of the St. Louis Jewish community to share their opinions and ideas for potential new kosher options.

The project is the brainchild of St. Louis native David Benkof, who said “perhaps the biggest weakness in our city’s Jewish communal infrastructure is the lack of a diverse kosher restaurant scene. I’m hoping we can fill that gap.”

Presently, St. Louis has only two kosher restaurant options: Kohn’s Kosher Deli in Creve Coeur (open daily for lunch and for dinner on Tuesdays); and vegetarian Indian restaurant Gokul in the Loop. Several cities whose Jewish populations are similar to or smaller than that of St. Louis (Dallas, Seattle, Houston) have significantly more kosher options.

Benkof, who is spearheading the project in conjunction with Chabad of Greater St. Louis, said he often hears pessimism from St. Louisans who note past unsuccessful restaurants. He rejects that thinking, though: “St. Louis has not had a dairy restaurant in nine years, nor a meat restaurant in eleven. Since that time, the kosher food section at Schnuck’s has doubled, at least.” He also pointed to the 2014 Jewish community study, which found fewer local Jews lighting Chanukah candles, belonging to a synagogue, and attending a Seder than in 1995 – but more keeping kosher.

Benkof said a bigger local kosher restaurant scene could have a ripple effect throughout the community, since some kosher-observant families simply won’t move to a city where they cannot eat out. “And those are the families who can afford day school tuition,” he added.

Rabbi Yosef Landa, Chabad’s regional director, emphasized that broad community participation will be key: “The more people who participate, the more investors and restaurateurs will be encouraged that the St. Louis kosher restaurant market is robust. We’re hoping the community will rally to give them the data they need to best serve us.”

Chabad, which also conducted a separate, more scientific feasibility study, plans to publish the results on line and to promote them to potential investors. That report is scheduled to be released in the spring.

GatewayKosher.com can be accessed from both laptop and mobile devices. Responses to the survey will be collected through December 31, 2015.

If you have any questions, please contact Rabbi Landa at ylanda@showmechabad.com or 314-725-0400.