SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — The Jewish New Year may look different in the age of COVID-19 but restaurants across the Bay Area are trying to preserve tradition with special meal kits.
The five-course holiday meal for two at Schmaltz in North Beach is proving to be a big hit this weekend, so much so that it’s extending the kit through September. The modern Jewish pop-up opened during the pandemic and already they’ve sold eight times the number of meal kits they normally sell.
“The highlight is that it’s easy, a lot of kits out there pre-COVID were trying to teach people how to cook and have people cutting and doing all these ornate cooking rituals,” said chef Beth Needelman.
Schmaltz is offering the traditional round challah and its chicken is honey-roasted, as is tradition to incorporate something sweet to ring in Rosh Hashanah.
Meal kits have become a popular choice as families gather digitally.
“It’s about cooking together, being with your family and now you have the opportunity to Zoom to be together,” said Tai Ricci, co-owner of Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group, which is supporting Schmaltz. “So you can get the meal kits wherever you are and you can still be together without risking getting sick.”
The Bay Area’s oldest Jewish deli, Saul’s Delicatessen, is still serving classics for pickup in Berkeley.
“This is a good time to have a new year and also feel some of the comfort of a familiar tradition and I think many people are turning to that this year,” said co-owner Karen Adelman.
Apples and honey — symbolic Rosh Hashanah foods — are also making their way onto the meal kit menu at Canela in San Francisco’s Castro District.
Its holiday special includes a honey lava cake.
This is the second Jewish holiday in quarantine and restaurateurs are hoping for a boost in business.
“Actually that kind of saved us, April everyone was still kind of getting their sea legs and the Passover meals really sustained us through that time period,” said owner and chef Matt Schuster.
Many restaurants are just starting to recover from slow to no business because of the unhealthy air quality in the Bay Area. They hope Rosh Hashanah does indeed help them ring in a sweet new year.