"It's not about it being a difficult business decision because there is no business decision," Glenn Karow said on a recent afternoon from a pristine lunch counter. "It is simply what must be done to hold ourselves to the highest, most strict standards of being a kosher restaurant. And we are a kosher restaurant."
Karow, a 42-year veteran of the restaurant business, is the owner of , Stamford's newest kosher establishment—and hot spot.
Karow will be closing the restaurant after sundown Thursday until Sunday, April 15, at 11:30 a.m. This is for the entire length of the Jewish holiday Passover.
"People ask, 'How can you afford to do that?'" he said. "Because today is going to be the businest day of the year for us, as opposed to Mother's Day everywhere else. It's not a hard business decision because we wouldn't be kosher if we didn't close. But I guess it doesn't make much sense if you don't know much about the holiday or religious background."
The restaurant just opened in January and it is a mix of many different attempts to please many different needs - and it appears to succeed on all fronts.
At lunch, it puts on the face of a deli, and offers fare to match. At dinner, it can be an upscale establishment offering fine dining or a sports bar offering a place to watch the game—whatever the patron may want.
It does all these things presenting only the strictest kosher offerings, and at times, that can be off-putting to someone who has only heard the word but is unfamiliar with what it means. Fans of the restaurant are reassuring.
"I said to my neighbor, 'I'm going to pick up dinner from Kosh,' and he said, 'Can non-Jewish people go there, too?' " said Jodi Hadge. "I said, 'Anyone can come here! It's delicious.' And nothing compares to the food quality. I don't know how Glenn does it."
Effort, mostly, is how Karow does it, according to his wife, Joanne. She explains that they recently wanted to invest in a smoker.
"They went to Montreal and stayed there for a while after buying it," she said, "So they could train with the guys that built it as to its best use. This is the real deal."
Even his non-Jewish employees call working at the establishment a learning experience.
"We've been really busy," said bartender Jackie Pedrin. "It's exciting, I've learned a lot. My dad's Jewish, but I didn't know half this stuff."
"It's definitely taught me a lot," agreed server Kelly Farrar. "I had friend's growing up who were Jewish, but they never stuck to the really strict kosher religious laws. This has been really enlightening, I've enjoyed it."
Despite all the religious undertones to the presentation and food preparation, Karow doesn't want to be pigeon-holed.
"We wanted to be an excellent restaurant that happens to be kosher," he said. "Not a 'kosher restaurant.' And we're the only one that combines the upscale sports bar with a kosher presentation in the tri-state area. Maybe the whole country."
And so, with passover upon him, Karow will continue his attempts to succeed on all fronts. He'll just have to wait a week to do it.