When Joel Brown opened Kosher Cajun (3519 Severn Ave., Metairie, 504-888-2010; www.koshercajun.com) nearly 27 years ago, he had a clear vision of his ideal customer: everyone.
"When I started Day One, I knew the size of the Jewish community and I knew the focus wasn't going to be on the very small religious part," says owner Joel Brown. "I wanted to have everyone as customers, and I thought the New York deli would be a niche market. That was my mindset — be a New York deli, and we happen to be kosher."
His clientele includes the local Jewish community, out-of-state visitors and anyone who craves a traditional New York deli experience. Jam-packed with sports memorabilia, Kosher Cajun embraces a neighborly atmosphere and has a small Judaica shop in the front of the space.
The grocery offers a wide selection of wines, meats and packaged products, and customers are invited to request items the store doesn't carry. "We are very personalized," Brown says. "People call us on the phone and we walk around to find them what they need. ... Everything is kosher, but everything is quality. We have a rabbi who comes in and gives us supervision. He makes sure the products we sell are kosher certified."
Ten years after opening, Brown added the deli. He bought the property next to his grocery to house it. Later, he bought storage space upstairs to create a one-stop kosher spot.
Brown also offers catering and delivery.
"Any restaurant in the city that has customers coming in that need kosher [products] can come to us," he says. "Our meals are on china, we are able to double-wrap and seal the food so it can go into a non-kosher oven. That way, those guests feel included and part of whatever restaurant experience is happening."
Brown recently launched a Friday sushi menu and this month, he starts a monthly delivery service to Memphis, Tenn., a community he was involved with post-Hurricane Katrina.
As a distributor, Brown sells raw products like uncooked meats and seafood to local grocery stores. He also outfitted this year's Jewish Federations of North America's TribeFest at the Sheraton New Orleans.
"People come into New Orleans and they want local food," he says. "We've now developed gumbo, kosher fried shrimp, red beans and rice, jambalaya. These Southern favorites are on our menu now. We had kosher king cakes during Mardi Gras. We try to copy as close as we can in a kosher fashion."