A flexible friend aids restaurants
Harsh economic conditions and increased competition have made life tougher for kosher restaurants over the past few years.
But owners have at least been able to benefit from the London Beth Din's greater flexibility in supervision policies.
The authority does not insist that all licensees must employ a full-time shomer (supervisor) on the premises.
"It is difficult to generalise regarding methods of hashagach [supervision]," LBD kashrut director Rabbi Jeremy Conway explained. "So much depends on the type of operation, menu, venue and general staffing arrangements."
In some cases, a business will not be required to hire a shomer
But if a full-time Shabbat observant staff member other than the owner is on the premises, the establishment may not have to incur the cost of hiring a shomer.
In such cases, Rabbi Conway said, "it would often suffice to have regular unannounced inspections from a senior roving LBD inspector to maintain mehadrin [stringent] levels of kashrut."
Or where two restaurants were neighbours, it might be possible for them to share a supervisor, rather than each having to employ a separate shomer.
The division now has two full-time inspectors who can conduct spot checks on a restaurant at any time.
"We are sensitive to the difficult economic conditions and, of course, the need to promote kashrut with first class cuisine and tip-top kashrut standards," Rabbi Conway added.