Saturday, May 15, 2021

Kosherkart launched several weeks ago in an attempt to provide kosher-keeping consumers in and around New York with reliable deliveries of fresh kosher foods and certified pantry staples that are often harder to find via delivery. Rebecca Grafstein, CEO of Kosherkart, answered some of my questions about why she brought her idea of a fast, gourmet delivery service to the kosher marketplace.

Elizabeth: Tell me about your experience as a kosher consumer and your family’s kosher food needs and preferences. Did you have any concerns in terms of getting what you need to cook and bake?

Rebecca: Kosher consumers don’t just need to think about where to shop for meat! It can be a challenge to find a great selection of other basics like kosher cheeses, Israeli snacks, pareve chocolate and so on, available for quick online delivery. I personally often struggle at mainstream stores finding pareve or kosher-certified brands of popular staples like balsamic vinegar or grape jelly or breadcrumbs.

My children are adults now, but when they were little I remember running across town in search of kosher candy like Paskesz sour sticks, Laffy Taffy and marshmallows to make Rice Krispie treats. We are trying to stay well stocked with these types of items.

Elizabeth: With those experiences in mind, how did that inspire you to start a company?

Rebecca: Kosherkart was born out of my desire to get lamb chops quickly. About a year ago I walked way out of my way after an exercise class to my local kosher butcher to pick up some I had promised to make for my lamb chop-loving spouse. When I got there, the butcher was out of lamb chops. I knew it was too late to get a same-day delivery from the other butcher across town, so I hopped into a cab and schlepped over myself in order to keep my promise. That was when I first had the great idea to start a kosher delivery service!

Elizabeth: Is your delivery service the first iteration of Kosherkart? Did you have to pivot, like many businesses, due to the COVID lockdown?

Rebecca: Kosherkart.com, our own online store, is a very recent COVID pivot. The original Kosherkart idea, which we are still working on, is a mobile app for instant, same-day shopping and delivery from specialty kosher retailers. Especially during the early days of the COVID lockdown, the retail stores were very overwhelmed and there were huge supply-chain issues. We wanted to immediately start providing kosher grocery deliveries to people who need them, so we decided to stock our own inventory and build our own store. We hope Kosherkart.com will grow to eventually become one store on our Kosherkart same-day mobile app, which continues to attract tremendous interest from potential retail partners.

Elizabeth: What kinds of products and goods are you providing? Which are some partners you’ve identified so far and what other partners are you looking for?

Rebecca: We have a nice—and growing—selection of fresh meats and deli, cheese, pantry staples, snacks, candy, bakery, frozen foods and more. We are expecting to start stocking kosher-certified checked greens this week. We’re working with a wonderful delivery partner who is dedicating refrigerated vans and excellent, careful drivers to Kosherkart so we can get all our orders out promptly and safely. We’re looking for suppliers and manufacturers of new and interesting kosher products that we can add to our store’s inventory, and for retailers who’d like to partner with us to reach more kosher consumers. We are also very proud to be working with Met Council’s kosher food pantry to donate kosher food to people in need throughout New York City.

Elizabeth: What area will you serve daily and weekly within the tri-state area? Any plans to deliver outside the tri-state area?

Rebecca: As of now we deliver quality kosher groceries weekdays to our
customers’ doorsteps in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Riverdale, Scarsdale, New Rochelle, White Plains, Great Neck and West Hempstead. Next we hope to expand to cover more of the metropolitan area—maybe New Jersey, Connecticut, more of Westchester and Long Island. In the long term, who knows? It’s early days and we’ll see how we grow.

Elizabeth: How can people get a Kosherkart delivery?

Rebecca: It’s easy! Just go to https://kosherkart.com and place an order. We deliver Mondays through Fridays excluding Jewish holidays. The cutoff for next-day delivery is 4 p.m.

By Elizabeth Kratz