In Stamford, Connecticut, there are various kosher eateries that were successful pre-pandemic, but, as many establishments did, they dealt with myriad challenges when COVID-19 hit. Some of the most popular kosher food venues in Stamford include: Six Thirteen, a meat restaurant; 16 Handles, a frozen yogurt shop; Navaratna, an Indian restaurant; Soosh, a sushi and dairy cafe; and Dairy Queen, an ice cream stand. Navaratna, Soosh and Dairy Queen are all certified kosher by Vaad Hakashrus of Fairfield, Connecticut; Six Thirteen is OU-certified; and 16 Handles is certified by National Kosher Supervision.
Dairy Queen is famous for its inexpensive and mouth-watering desserts. It is only open around summertime, and, even pre-COVID, only ever had outdoor seating. There is a booth where the customer pays for an ice cream, shake, banana split, etc., receives their dessert, and would then head to the tables with seats and umbrellas, or to the benches right next to the Dairy Queen hut. Even before the pandemic, Dairy Queen had a setup that could be adapted to new protocols. Hopefully, they will continue to flourish this year with their perfect wallet-friendly summer treats as people venture outdoors.
Before COVID-19, Six Thirteen was a very popular restaurant in Stamford where people would go for special occasions, date nights, celebrations, or simply for the experience. A fancy establishment with divine food, Six Thirteen was successful and prosperous. When COVID-19 struck, the restaurant was forced to close indoor and outdoor dining.
It was extremely difficult for high-end restaurants to continue during the pandemic, because people don’t just pay for the food, they also pay for the experience. However, despite the limits of the pandemic, Six Thirteen marketed themselves well, and an initial success was to expand delivery to surrounding cities. Adam, the manager at Six Thirteen, said that the restaurant started to focus more on out-of-town folks in Westchester and New Jersey, sending drivers to deliver to families who couldn’t leave their homes.
Expanding their horizons and transitioning to take-out only,was not a cheap venture for Six Thirteen, as they had to pay for more take-out boxes as well as masks. Many families also ordered take-out Shabbat food. Six Thirteen was also one of the first restaurants to open outdoor dining around May of 2020, welcoming families, singles and dating couples from around the tri-state area and surrounding cities who drove to the venue for the unique experience and delicious food. In fact, Adam said that the restaurant had to turn many people away because they didn’t have enough seating. Now that more people are vaccinated and restrictions are being lifted, the restaurant is once again getting very busy and looking forward to the bright future ahead.
Just like Six Thirteen, 16 Handles also drastically shifted their operating protocols. Pre-pandemic, the venue was packed with people filling up their frozen yogurt cups with one of the 16 amazing flavors, and finishing them with different kinds of delicious toppings. 16 Handles is a fun place for families, children, friends, date night, or a simple treat for oneself. They have all the allergies and nutritional information listed above every flavor and topping.
During the height of the pandemic, 16 Handles set up a table at the end of the shop where the two owners took orders and filled up each cup themselves. Gradually, they started letting people into the shop with social distancing, no indoor seating, constant cleaning of the frozen yogurt handles, and no self-serve toppings. The owner, Richard DeCesare, said the pandemic made the business extremely difficult, without enough funds to even pay rent.
However, now that restrictions are being lifted and more people are vaccinated, 16 Handles has gone back to their usual operations, while following the CDC guidelines. They even opened a new store in the North Ridge Shopping Center in New Rochelle!
Navaratna and Soosh also suffered during the pandemic. Navaratna has incredibly tasty Indian vegetarian and dairy cuisine with all different types of aromatic spices. They did take-out during the pandemic, and have since reopened their indoor seating.
Soosh also did take-out during the pandemic and made many deliveries both in and out of Stamford. Throughout the pandemic, Soosh also catered NCSY’s “Soosh and Shmooze.” The restaurant offers delicious, freshly made sushi with home-made sauces; warm pizza; and their famous “Soosh Fries,” as well as wraps and salads. Soosh has reopened its seating and is looking forward to a bright year ahead.
As CDC guidelines are changing, there is hope that these kosher restaurants will continue to flourish.
By Julianne Katz