Published November 03, 2005
Grinning, polite young men and women in matching uniforms have replaced the scowling "Soup Nazi" immortalized on "Seinfeld." (search)
And the original counter in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan has become a gleaming Midtown corporate cash register.
"It's delicious!" said Mary Lai, 29.
She used to visit the original, now-closed locale on 55th Street — long cherished by New Yorkers for Yeganeh's surliness, bizarre rules and delicious meals.
"It's the ultimate New York experience," said Lai, who arrived at 5:30 a.m. and was one of the first customers served when the doors opened just after 8 a.m.
By lunchtime, the soup line around the block was 50 people long, with some broth aficionados waiting more than 40 minutes.
"Finally, I get to try it," said Fred Sepulveda, 33, a Manhattan courier.
After trying the chicken gumbo, he declared, "It's great. Worth the wait."
Also on hand for the grand opening was Yankee Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson (search), an investor in the now international company, who will spearhead the fund-raising for charity.
"If we're going to do this well, we've got to give something back," said Mr. October.
The company handed over a $5,000 check to City Harvest Thursday to help feed the homeless.
Not surprisingly, Yeganeh — a prickly culinary curmudgeon who rocketed to fame when a 1995 episode of "Seinfeld" spoofed his anti-social behavior while praising his concoctions as habit-forming — didn't bother to grace the eatery with his short-fused presence.
"He's media-shy," said John Bello, CEO of The Original Soup Man. "He's here in spirit."
His "spirit" must have been foaming at the mouth.
The rules that made his 20-year-old place a quintessential Big Apple lunch spot — while posted in homage on the wall — will not be enforced.
That means customers will not be tossed out for dillydallying between garden vegetable and jambalaya, fumbling in their purse for their wallet and won't have to hurry to the "extreme" left after ordering.
And the staff seemed to be — horrors! — having fun.
One person — who cut the line! — was cordially told what soups were available.
Still, even with the spruced-up shop, a little New Yawk attitude was in evidence.
"F - - - you, Jerry Seinfeld," one irate passer-by inexplicably screamed, before spitting on the banner christening the new eatery.