Hold the spinach puffs. After 15 years of serving the community, Seattle-based kosher catering company Nosh Away is closing its doors.
“Since 2008, business has steadily declined in the catering aspect,” said Phillip Klitzner, who runs Nosh Away with his wife Dayna. Corporate, private and non-profit spending all slumped along with the economy, and this year, sales were down by 30 percent from 2008.
Regular corporate clients tightened their belts, individuals are scaling back on weddings and B’nai Mitzvah, and fundraising dinners are seeing less turnout, with community institutions reducing full meals to lighter receptions, Klitzner explained.
In addition, some organizations over the years have opted to save money by using non-kosher caterers, bringing in boxed kosher meals to those guests who require them.
“There was always that threat,” Klitzner said.
Fortunate for the kosher-observant community, however, Nosh Away isn’t disappearing altogether. The Klitzners are shifting their focus to Affordable Kosher, the online retail and wholesale distributor of kosher goods they started in 2010.
Klitzner told JTNews they have plans to expand the product line, making the online store look more like an East Coast grocery store. They hope to expand their delivery timeframes and zones, too.
Affordable Kosher will continue to distribute to the remaining kosher caterers, which include Leah’s Catering of Seattle, and Eli Varon and Dalia Amon, who work out of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation and Congregation Ezra Bessaroth’s kitchens, respectively. Leah’s is the only one under the supervision of the Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle.
The owner of Leah’s, Leah Jaffee, is concerned about the hole Nosh Away will be leaving.
“I have turned myself into an event caterer, and that’s what I do,” she told JTNews. She will not be stepping up to provide boxed meals at non-kosher functions, hotel meals, or bakery or Shabbat items.
“I financially cannot do that,” she said. She hopes outlets like Albertson’s, QFC, and Island Crust will work to fill such voids.
“My crew works really hard,” Jaffee continued. “I don’t think anyone realizes we’re up all night before a Sunday event. It’s not for lack of effort.”
Jaffee said she can still take on last-minute events, like brit milahs and funerals, but otherwise she advises her customers to plan ahead, and not to be afraid to call her.
“We’re all going to be okay,” she said.
Nosh Away will also hold on to some of its equipment to be of service to venues in need of kosher supplies, and Klitzner said they will be available to consult with non-kosher venues.
“I would work between hotels and the Va’ad to ensure successful event,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity for other caterers to do kosher once in a while,” he added, suggesting that high-end restaurateurs like Tom Douglas could expand their offerings in the kosher market. Another large caterer, On Safari, also does regular kosher events, preparing the meals in kashered kitchens.
Klitzner expressed some relief to be done with catering.
“I had a good time,” he said. “We were involved in a lot of people’s simchas. I wouldn’t have changed it, but it’s an opportunity for us to move on.”