Report: Popular Shidduch Dating Spot Discriminates Against Frum People


river-cafeThe NY Post reports: The iconic River Café on the Brooklyn waterfront in DUMBO – famous for its floating-barge dining room that offers sweeping views of lower Manhattan – discriminates against Jews dressed in religious garb by requiring them to pay a minimum of $25 per person to sit at the bar, according to one current and one former employee.

The reservationists – who stand at the entrance to the popular wedding venue and tourist destination – are instructed to use code words to alert the maitre d’ if anyone wearing a yarmulke, “religious hat” or “strings” asks to be seated at the scenic bar, the workers say.

“There are several notes in a book that the reservationists use,” said a current employee at the restaurant, which opened in 1977. The book is kept at the greeting stand. New notes are added periodically by management, and employees are expected to read it before every shift, staffers said.

“The book says that if two religious Jews come in, we call ahead to the maitre d’ and say, ‘Is there space for two at the water bar?’ – in which case a minimum of $25 will be enforced that is just for Jews wearing yarmulkes or any sort of religious hat,” a staffer said. “The terminology in the book is ‘special hat’ or ‘religious hat.’ At the bar, the $25 minimum is only enforced for Jews.”

Restaurant officials denied the claim.

“The $25 minimum applies to everyone,” said Teddy Dearie, assistant manager at The River Café. “If it wasn’t applied, that is just someone not doing their job. The phrase ‘water bar’ I’ve never heard before. That phrase, or any deviation from the policy that’s been in place for several years, is not condoned by the restaurant and is indicative of an individual not performing the duties for which they have been hired.”

Images of the reservation book were provided to The Post to back up the employees’ claims.

“If they look as if they will only order water (not that we stereotype or anything) mention the minimum right away,” one note says. “If they ask for the bar and there is room, tell them there is a minimum at the bar as well.”

Another note reads: We “have decided that when people come in for the bar and are A. wearing sweat pants and B. religious top hats and strings, you must say for A. gym bar and for B. water bar. Thanks.”

On Thursday evening, The Post sent a Jewish couple to the bar. The husband, wearing a yarmulke, and the wife, dressed in a simple long skirt, were told the bar was full.

They were told they could sit on the empty terrace and pay a $25-per- person minimum.

Five minutes later, two Post reporters, wearing no religious garb, were seated on the terrace and were not required to pay a minimum. The bill for a coffee and a gin-and-tonic totaled $18.51.

The River Café – a non-kosher eatery famous for its $100 three-course prix-fixe menu featuring lobster, foie gras and rack of lamb – has become a popular date spot with Orthodox Jews, who are required by their religion to choose public places for dates.

Current and former employees said these couples come for the view and non-alcoholic beverages, and are frowned upon because they take up seats and don’t spend enough money.


{ Newscenter}


  1. If a dating couple comes to a lounge for a date, they usually plan to stay for a few hours. I am sure that lounge owners are not happy to see the place filled with people who have no intention of buying anything but do intend to stay for a much longer period of time than the average patron. Truth be told, if frum community operated a beshow room rental spot or a dating spot with rooms that opened to a central lobby with a non-Jewish employee seating the patrons in rooms with open doors and bringing them beverages, it would cost at least $25 per date. Someday possibly a frum business person will open such a dating spot but unless the community donates money for it to operate, it will cost plenty.

  2. Not to excuse the restaurant for discrimination, but there’s no excuse for any frum yid to frequent such an establishment. It has a bar, but it is actually a treif restaurant, which happens to have a bar. What ever happened to the prohibition of “maris ayin,” giving the appearance of doing a sin? Aren’t there enough kosher eating establshments in N.Y. to choose from? This is truly pushing the envelope.

  3. I actually have dated their a number of times and have been their with my wife more recently and I have always found that there is an undercurrent of dislike for Jews there.

    Is it because they always order water and nothing else and take up space or because they simply do not like the Jews or whatever… is true.

  4. It’s understandable that a business does not want to give up prime space to people who they know won’t spend money. And who will stay for hours on end.

    This isn’t anti-Semitism; it’s practical business.

  5. I dated there. The last century. And their right. We don’t eat or drink like them so its a losing proposition for them. The world trade center will be up soon. And see what the”ll charge just to sit down

  6. please the resturant is 100% right for charging this fee . look some charedy people choose that place to go dating and dont spend a a dime or maybee just a glass of seltzer . at the same time they coyuld uae the space for someone who will order a full cource wondering who ran to the press to make a tumul.

  7. Amazing how many people who read this MISS THE POINT.

    The point is NOT the issue of them charging $25 for people who sit for a long time and don’t order food.

    The issue is them ONLY charging this surcharge to frum-looking jews

  8. “The River Café – a non-kosher eatery famous for its $100 three-course prix-fixe menu featuring lobster, foie gras and rack of lamb – has become a popular date spot with Orthodox Jews, who are required by their religion to choose public places for dates.”

    What? Where is this halacha that Orthodox Jews must go to public places for dates? I’ve never once been on a date in a public place. Most Chassidishe Yidden don’t date in public places. In fact years ago Litvishes didn’t either.

  9. Wanting to get married again, I took my prospective wife to Weiss’ dairy restaurant while it was on Coney Island Avenue in its old location. Of course, 27 years ago prices were not so high; the food was heimish good, and we enjoyed being able to talk casually for an hour or so. After three or four times, I suggested to my prospective wife what my ultimate aim was, and she responded positively. I guess I missed the boat (pun intended) regarding modern dating mores!

  10. exactly like number 8 said… we alll may have our way we date but it doesnt look and it really isnt normal way people do things.. think about it these ppl who date and just ask for sodas from a bar… its strange… we must keep to our values,,, sure, but wake up also and realize we have to act normal.. an we will see its not anti semitic… we close our eyes to this reality and we think the world is against us… we have to be normal behaved people if we want that in return… surely theres a way we can date with our values without acting really strange and thinking so narrowly that our way is only way…. there are plenty ways to date jewishly without sitting with hats and jackets drinking soda from a bar… normal normal normal…. its a river cafe and all u order are drinks… thats not fair to cafe yep not fair to them…. not us…

  11. matzav agenda and not truth seeking of course u report this way….. shame on you down here and after !20….. heard of truth before ?

  12. It is assur & a bizayon for any Ben Torah to be seen even near such a place of sin! I hope they ban all Jews from this Treiffa eatery!

  13. I totally understand them for wanting to charge a dating couple for sitting there for 2-3 hours and not buying anything. #12 we are very different from the Goyim, they think we’re strange, but we need to be proud of being Klal Yisrael, in Germany the Jews tried being like the Goyim, because the Goyim gave them the opportunity, and look what happened there, many say the Holocaust came about because of this. You write “we will see its not anti semitic… we close our eyes to this reality and we think the world is against us…”, but we know “Halacha he b’yaduah sheEisav sonei L’Yaakov”, even in America when they come as a friend the hatred here is still in the heart.

  14. To Steve,
    The surcharge on frum looking people no doubt came as a result of losing money on people who sat and sat but did not spend. There may also be truth to the fact that the restaurant wants to have a certain ambiance that is ruined by the presence of a group of people who look and act different and who don’t eat the food. They most likely would also object to Muslims who are dressed as Muslims and who would not eat the food or socialize with others at the bar.

  15. Leah, you try telling AINO YEHUDIM ordering a coffee and staying all afternoon, to please speak in a quieter voice as other customers, too, would like to have a conversation. YOU try it, good luck.

  16. Reader, no one listens to me anyway but my point is that either we Yidden need to develop our own dating spots or we have to be respectful of those places that we patronize. Personally, I don’t think that $25 for a fancy place to sit for several hours is an outrageous price. Probably frum Jews are the only group of people who come just to shmooze because Muslims probably don’t go to those places. I doubt that this establishment has had trouble with anyone other than frum Jews as far as using space that could be used to seat paying customers. Most goyim have lots of other places to go and they probably do stay for long periods in coffee shops. As far as the loudness of conversation, the other patrons have the right to ask the establishment to ask people who are creating a disturbance, to leave.