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October 21, 2012 12:09 pm

Paper: Trendy New York Dating Hotspot Discriminates Against Jews

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The River Cafe on a mostly cloudy midday. Photo: Jim Henderson.

The River Cafe, DUMBO’s scenic restaurant that is popular among dating Jewish couples, discriminates against Jews by enforcing a $25 minimum per guest according to an investigative report by the New York Post.

The Post cites one current and one former employee who make the claim. “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,” said one staffer.

The New York paper also provides images of the reservation book that appear to back up the claims of the employees. “….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,” reads a note in the book.

To further back up the claim, the Post sent a Orthodox Jewish couple to the hotspot, followed by two secular looking reporters five minutes later. The reporters were not told about a minimum and their bill totaled $18.51,  but the Jewish couple were instructed that they would need to pay a minimum of $25 each.

A representative of The River Cafe denied the accusation and claimed that the $25 minimum applies to everyone. “The $25 minimum applies to everyone,” Teddy Dearie, assistant manager at The River Café told the Post. “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.”

A screenshot of the notes in the reservation book at The River Cafe provided by The Post is below.

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  • yossi

    As a chassidic Jew who went to The River Cafe a number of times with girls I was dating, I think the cover is very much justified. An upscale restaurant loses significant revenue if patrons take a table and only drink water or coke for several hours, in the meantime someone who would order a $150 dinner plus a $30 tip is kept waiting at the bar or goes elsewhere. All in all I found the service at the cafe excellent.

  • Lee

    @Alan and Doreen:

    REALLY!? Because this pork-eating Jew can and will go anywhere she pleases. Your “Jesus” cocktail comment is offensive and shows just how naive and insensitive you clearly are. It’s so funny to me how it is that so-called religious, Orthodox Jews think that it’s OK to be so blatantly prejudiced and intolerant of others, and then veil their (stupid) comments in a religious context. I won’t eat at this cafe again, but as Jews you should be less intolerant and kinder to others. Why? Because it’s ingrained in our religion.



  • what are they doing at a non-kosher restaurant in the first place? Having the Jesus cocktail? They get the kashurath cheating fine. This is a load of dreck. This is a disgruntled employee.

  • Eric R.

    The River Cafe is not kosher. Why would Orthodox Jews dine there? This does not seem to pass the smell test.

  • Peter Forman

    Sounds like someone has a grudge against the River Cafe.

  • Eli

    Orthodox Jews will go to a non-Kosher establishment to have drinks. Thus, it might be somewhat justified to charge them a fee (i.e., a cover charge) as it is unlikely that they will order any food from the menu.

  • Doreen

    It sounds quite unbelievable and is certainly very strange, that orthodox Jews would go to this non-kosher place.

    • MH8169

      I agree with Doreen…Orthodox Jews would never and I repeat never go to a non-kosher restaurant, bar and etc. I do smelled some rotten fish and it is not in the water….

    • yuda

      Doreen orthodox young couples dating go there, they only drink sometimes alcoholic and sometimes only water.