Cook. Eat. Kibitz. Repeat.
That’s the motto of Kibitz Cafe, the pop-up restaurant that serves delicious breakfasts in Congregation Shaare Emeth’s auditorium from 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. once-a-month on Sunday mornings.
Meals range in price from $5.50 to about $7.00 a plate and feature a variety of tasty options, including Ken’s Famous French Toast and Shawn’s Salami and Eggs.
Ken Levine is the creator of Kibitz Cafe and the immediate past president of MOSHE (Men of Shaare Emeth). Shawn Rimerman is currently president of the auxiliary group responsible for the monthly meals. Formerly an executive chef in Southern California, Ken came up with the idea for Kibitz Cafe in 2011 and launched it in 2012.
“It’s a real restaurant,” Ken says. “You come in to the auditorium and you’re seated at a family style table and handed a menu. You have real silverware and a real plate and cup in front of you. A waiter, who is one of our members, comes by and takes your order.”
Under Chef Levine’s direction, approximately 25 volunteers wait tables, wash dishes, prepare food and do whatever else is needed to help the morning go smoothly. Their current record is 155 meals in two-and-a-half hours.
The menu is diverse and includes eggs, potatoes, bagels and cream cheese, pancakes, waffles and French toast, in addition to seasonal specials including matzo brei, which will be served during Hanukkah.
“I think there are so many new members that may not be aware of this, so I would love for them to contact me and I will be happy to buy their first meal,” Ken says.
While many of the most frequent Kibitz Cafe patrons are religious school families, the experience is open to anyone — including members of the general public.
“We actually had a couple come in while I was out walking around schmoozing, and they said they saw the sign while going to breakfast up at Bread Co. and thought — oh! — that would be interesting, and they said, ‘We’re not even Jewish. Can we come?’ I said of course you can!”
Approximately 90% of the proceeds from Kibitz Cafe are used to fund various Temple activities and causes, including the 150th Anniversary, Shaare the Vision, life cycle events and other social justice initiatives.
A new season of Kibitz Cafe begins on Sunday, November 19. It will continue on December 10, January 21, February 11, March 11 and April 8.