May 9, 2024
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HP’s Bridge Turkish Grill Receives Threats and Bad Reviews for Support of Rutgers Jewish Rally

The Bridge

As staff members of The Bridge Turkish and Mediterranean Grill kosher restaurant in Highland Park learned recently, you don’t have to enter a “Liberated Encampment’ on a college campus, or even be Jewish, to face harassment, falsehoods and other odious actions from Hamas sympathizers.

The Bridge had agreed to provide kosher food at cost for a ‘Students Supporting Israel’ End of Semester barbecue on May 3, planned for the Voorhees Mall on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus, opposite the protesters’ encampment. The barbecue ads told prospective attendees, “Let’s peacefully show our Zionist pride and spirit” and added, “Please remember this is a peaceful demonstration, be respectful, no shouting, and thank RUPD.” The event was co-sponsored and promoted by Rutgers-Chabad; days later, the barbecue was moved to a nearby New Brunswick park.

Shortly after word got around about the barbecue, the Bridge started receiving calls pressuring the restaurant to drop their support of the event. As Sam Eriske, owner of the Bridge, shared with The Jewish Link, “People were calling and saying: ‘What are they paying you? We’ll double it (if you don’t support the rally)’ and ‘If you do this, you’re gonna get a bad reputation.”

Bogus review, #1

Eriske told his staff to ignore the angry callers and estimated that they received “about a dozen” such calls.

Shortly afterwards, The Bridge began to see a rash of 15-20 scathing bogus one-star reviews appear on its Google Reviews page. Eriske said that the slandering of his restaurant made him sad and angry, because “it was so stupid.”

Eriske and his staff were gratified to see the immediate supportive response they received from the local Jewish community. Eriske cited supportive emails he received from Rabbi Reuven Drucker and other members of the VAAD HaRabbonim of Raritan Valley, as well as from other community members.

Community members also started posting enthusiastic five star reviews of The Bridge, to counterbalance the bogus reviews. To limit the traction of the phony reviews, staff at The Bridge posted responses to each of them, which said: “Attention: This review has been made because we’re catering food to Rutgers Jewish event. Please ignore this racist person.”

At press time, the effort to restore The Bridge’s well-earned reputation on Google Reviews has made remarkable strides, with the restaurant’s ranking now a solid 4.6 stars.

Bogus review, #2

Eriske is grateful for the community response, commenting while still on vacation visiting family and friends in Turkey: “I deeply appreciate their support and respect them. I am 100% with them, for sure.”

Michael Garber, mashgiach and front-end manager of The Bridge, added: “The students, at Rutgers, SSI and Chabad, specifically Michael Batushansky, president SSI; Kelly Shapiro, vice president, SSI; and Camilla Vaynberg, director of programing; demonstrated real leadership skills in organizing this event despite the hurdles placed in their way, in a very professional manner. We should be very proud of these young men and women.”


Harry Glazer is the Middlesex County Editor of The Jewish Link. He can be reached at [email protected] and he welcomes feedback. And for the record, Harry is a big fan of The Bridge: their food & service is always top-notch.

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