Another Bay Area kosher restaurant shuts its doors

The Jerusalem Grill & Bar in Campbell has announced that it will be closing its doors on Nov. 20, marking the end of the line for yet another kosher restaurant in the Bay Area.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this announcement,” owner Erez Knobler said in an email to customers on Nov. 1. “It was a long, interesting, fulfilling and challenging journey.”

Knobler opened the 18-table eatery in late 2011, aiming to provide fellow South Bay residents with a kosher meat restaurant that was family-friendly and affordable. Israeli cuisine was featured, along with a lineup of theme nights, such as Chinese food, Mexican food and sushi — all kosher, of course.

Knobler, a native of Israel who was in his home country this week, was not available for comment before the deadline for this article, but Tammy Nijmeh, the restaurant’s manager since day one, said it was challenging and expensive for Knobler to keep the business going.

“We had very loyal customers, but it was difficult for him,” Nijmeh said. Citing some of the challenges, she mentioned the many hours Knobler put in, the high cost of kosher meats, the expense of having a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) constantly on site, and potential revenue lost from being closed for Shabbat, which meant no dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays.

Jerusalem Grill & Bar

She said a lot of customers were “sad to hear the news” and reached out to restaurant staff this week.

Located on Winchester Boulevard, about two miles from Santana Row in San Jose, Jerusalem Grill passed its four-year anniversary two months ago.

Ristorante Raphael, Noah Alper’s upscale glatt kosher spot in downtown Berkeley, also lasted four years before it shut down in 2007. The Kitchen Table in downtown Mountain View served gourmet meat and other dishes for three years before closing in 2012.

Amba Grill in Oakland’s Montclair district ceased operations in late August, a few months shy of six years in business. The casual restaurant began as a kosher vegetarian spot in late 2009 before adding meat in 2014.

Holy Land in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood dropped its kosher certification in October 2012 but remains in business, now in its 26th year.

Jerusalem Grill’s departure will leave the Bay Area with only two dedicated kosher restaurants, both in San Francisco: Sabra Grill (a meat restaurant supervised by Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California) and Shangri-La Vegetarian Chinese (supervised by the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of S.F.).

Oakland Kosher Foods and Grand Bakery in Oakland have a few tables for on-site kosher dining, but neither is open for dinner. The same is true for Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels in Palo Alto, which is certified kosher by the Vaad even though it is open on Saturdays. L’Chaim Sushi has a pop-up dinner scheduled on Nov. 12 in San Francisco, but the business is a kosher caterer/delivery service, not a restaurant.

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.