SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Cait & Abby’s Daily Bread Bakery dropped its kosher certification, effective May 28, much to the chagrin of some its loyal Jewish customers who observe the laws of kashrut. The bakery, which has been located on Sloan Street for the last 23 years and had been kosher for that entire time, recently decided to stop being kosher because business had been slow, according to owner Raul Saade. In addition to all of its regular baked goods, the bakery now offers sandwiches and other items that include non-kosher meats, including bacon and ham.
“We were looking for more revenue,” Saade said in a phone interview with the News-Record on June 28. “The Jewish community has gotten smaller and they’re not supporting as much as they used to. Around the holidays is great, but I can’t have a store open only for holidays.”
Fridays — the day before the Jewish Sabbath, when many Jews would buy fresh challah and baked goods — used to be the busiest day of the week, but Saade said that it hasn’t been as active in recent years. Members of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel were the most frequent customers.
Saade pointed out that the recipes for the baked goods on the menu at Cait & Abby’s are not changing, they will still be technically kosher. The bakery is losing its certification because it is now offering additional food items that contain meat; certain meats not kosher, and those who keep kosher are forbidden to mix meat and dairy items.
“We’re doing everything the same as we used to, we haven’t changed anything with the baked goods,” Saade said. “We just added other food.”
He said that business has picked up in the last month with the updated menu, with the vendor using two turkeys and approximately 20 pounds of bacon in two weeks. The Short Hills location of Cait & Abby’s, which was open from 2002 to 2016, originally also opened as a kosher bakery, but Saade later added meat to the menu when sales dropped. Business picked up until he decided to close the Short Hills location.
“We didn’t have the support,” Saade said about the change in Short Hills. “When it changed we had customers, but then it was too much work. I had to consolidate. The money wasn’t good enough to keep going back and forth.”
Jonathan Factor, a South Orange resident who has been a Cait & Abby’s customer several times over the years, said he was disappointed to hear the bakery would be losing its kosher certification.
“For years I was going there, and a friend told me that it wasn’t going to be kosher anymore,” Factor said in a phone interview with the News-Record on June 25. “We have a pretty big Jewish community; there’s two or three synagogues in South Orange.”
South Orange is home to three synagogues: Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel, Temple Beth El and Oheb Shalom Congregation.
Factor said he liked Cait & Abby’s because of its location, as he lives nearby and it was convenient for him.
“Now I’ll just go to places in the city, but it was a little more convenient,” he said. “It’s a shame, but it’s their call about the business.”
Even without the kosher certification, Saade is optimistic that the bakery will be successful.
“I think it’s going to work tremendously,” he said. “People were asking for sandwiches and other things like that for about the last five years, so hearing the same thing made me think we should. We’re not considered a kosher bakery anymore, but we’re still making the kosher baked goods and everything else the same.”