Last winter, a news story was published about a Jewish man who ordered food from a local kosher restaurant on GrubHub.com, only to discover that the food he received and ate was in fact from a counterfeit “restaurant” that was being run out of a non-Jewish scammer’s home kitchen. It is incidents like this that highlight the need for JMenu, says CEO Shmuly Wolff.
The problem of these “phantom restaurants” is a persistent one that has been plaguing restaurant portal businesses like Seamless and GrubHub for some time. Other than the safety issues these unsupervised “restaurants” pose, there is an added problem for Observant Jews: there is no reliable way to verify that the food establishment you are ordering from is indeed kosher.
Making matters worse, many restaurants that are legitimate establishments – but not at all kosher – list themselves as “kosher-style” because they serve traditional Jewish foods like deli meats and knishes, and they come up as options when one searches for kosher food.
To highlight the issue, Shmuly demonstrated the problem to our interviewer by logging on to GrubHub.com and searching for restaurants in the Crown Heights area using the keyword “kosher.” The search brought up at least one restaurant that is 100% non-kosher, serving items like pork sandwiches and cheeseburgers. A search on Seamless.com brought up similar results.
“I concluded,” says Shmuly, “that a Frum Yid simply cannot order food from these websites.”
Like a true Lubavitcher, Shmuly did not just identify a problem and leave it be; he set about creating a solution.
Teaming up with his brother Zalmy Wolff, creator of Sauce N Cheese Pizza shop in Crown Heights, and tech expert Dovid Abba Goldstein, he set about creating a website through which kosher consumers can order food from their favorite restaurants with the comfort of knowing that every restaurant listed is guaranteed to be legitimate and kosher – with the certifying Kashrus agency listed right alongside each one.
After much hard work, the result of their efforts is JMenu.com, which has created partnerships with a majority of Crown Heights restaurants, serving a wide variety of cuisines. When a consumer places an order through JMenu, it goes straight to the restaurant to be made and delivered, with the consumer receiving updates of where their food is holding all along the way.
Aside from the peace of mind the website offers Kashrus-wise, there is also the added benefit of convenience: consumers can create an account and save their delivery and payment information, thereby simplifying the ordering process to just selecting the food they are in the mood of from the kosher restaurants in the area that are open at that hour. Previous orders are automatically saved for easy reordering.
Ultimately, JMenu’s goal is to make the entire process of ordering kosher food streamlined, effortless and simple – seamless, if you will.
In honor of its launch to the public, JMenu is offering all Crown Heights residents 10% off their first three orders, which can be utilized until the last day of October by creating an account and entering the code “JMENU10” on the checkout page. Orders can be made on JMenu.com or through the JMenu Android and iPhone apps.