Kosher Pizza Place Closes, It’s a Shonda

Ken Hechtman of Ken's Diner and Malibu Pizza & Pasta
Ken Hechtman of Ken’s Diner and Malibu Pizza & Pasta Photo: courtesy Ken’s Diner

News from a culinary subculture many don’t realize exist: Malibu Pizza and Pasta Restaurant, a kosher pizza joint in Skokie, has closed due to lack of business, The Daily Northwestern reports. Chicago’s kosher restaurant scene is small, but smaller yet is its scene devoted to offering young Orthodox Jews the typical food experiences of American teenagers— burgers and pizza, both of which present complications due to Jewish dietary restrictions which prohibit mixing meat and dairy. For almost thirty years owner Ken Hechtman has made a success of a retro-themed burger spot, Ken’s Diner, offering burgers, Italian beef, and the like using kosher meat products (but no dairy— so no cheese on the burgers, or shakes). He opened Malibu Pizza & Pasta next door offering vegetarian pizzas and pastas, but it didn’t seem to take off in the same way:

Even during times of economic boom, Hechtman said the Jewish community was inadequately supportive. The area’s large Orthodox population doesn’t eat out very often, he said.

“Sadly, the Chicago religious community does not support their kosher restaurants,” he said. “The lack of interest in kosher restaurants is just as sour as it’s ever been. The landscape that has changed is that people have less money.”

[The Daily Northwestern]

Kosher Pizza Place Closes, It’s a Shonda