No Soup for You?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 21, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Remember the Soup Nazi on "Seinfeld"? (search) My next guest hopes you don't. He's the real life soup chef who inspired the character. Now he's taking his soup chain nationwide. But don't even think of calling him that name or even mention that other character on that show.

With us now is Al Yeganeh. He is the real soup man. And John Bello, chairman and CEO of Soup Kitchen International.

Al, you don't like any of this reference to this?

AL YEGANEH, SOUP CHEF: I do not like that. The word is very offensive to me and all over the world. The people don't like to hear that. That was a crime that happened and we don't want to cash in on that crime and connect it to the Holocaust. We don't want to do that. No.

CAVUTO: So would that mean that any of the clear marketing association that people have of you through the show, you don't want that associated with this?

YEGANEH: They don't have to use that. I have the best product on the whole planet and I've been having great business. I had a great business before 1990, the great business, a huge line I had before "Seinfeld." I was doing great. I'm doing great. And I don't need his publicity on his name on my product.

CAVUTO: Yes. We should say your store is open, what, six months out of the year and the lines wrap around the block.

YEGANEH: Yes. I do great. I do great business. I don't need any publicity. I have no P.R. even now,.


YEGANEH: And I have personally over a thousand people, asking for the franchises so far.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, that's where you come in, John. And you take the soups for which he's well known and, through grocery stores and franchises you're going to make this national?

JOHN BELLO, CEO, SOUP KITCHEN INTERNATIONAL: Yes, we believe that soup has been an under developed category. Before Al, there was just that little red can and the soup that mother made.

And Al is world renowned for the quality of his soups. People pay $30 a quart for it.

CAVUTO: Thirty bucks a quart?

BELLO: Thirty bucks a quart.

CAVUTO: Man! Why do they pay $30 a quart?

YEGANEH: You have to be qualified to get that soup, and sometimes you want more than one, have to pay more than $30, if you're not qualified.


BELLO: Because it's superior quality and we think there's an opportunity in the super premium end. And our objective is to take this product, or Al's creations worldwide through a network of franchises. We hope to have over a thousand in the next five to seven years.

CAVUTO: And no association with "Seinfeld"? None at all?

BELLO: It's not about "Seinfeld." It's about the soup.

CAVUTO: You know what I think? I think, Al, your reputation precedes you. You're known to be pretty nasty, tough guy.

YEGANEH: No, it's not true. I love people. I respect my customers. I treat them like a king and queen, bunch of people, like the clown, Jerry the clown, want to come and have chit-chat, then I treat them worse than the show.

CAVUTO: So when people go and wait for soup in your store, is it as strict as you said, that you know, if you want to chit-chat, if you don't move on the line, what happens?

YEGANEH: There was a line before "Seinfeld."

CAVUTO: I know that. I know that. But is it true that you're nasty to your customers?

YEGANEH: No. I just want them to move because they are wasting the other people's time.

BELLO: He has a set of rules which are very -- that respect people's time. And he wants to get as many people through that line because they're waiting for the soup.

CAVUTO: But if you were a warm, fuzzy guy -- I'm saying he's obviously great at what he does.

BELLO: He is a warm and fuzzy guy.

CAVUTO: Maybe so, but does it help you that he's got this persona?

BELLO: Personality sells. And I think Al has a personality. But he is who he is, and you see that here, and you see him everywhere. You see that same personality coming forth every time you see him. Not a fake. The real thing.

But the most important thing is the soup is the real thing, and that's where the marketing opportunity is and the business opportunity for everybody, but, most importantly the consumers.

CAVUTO: All right, gentlemen. Al, do you want to say something.

YEGANEH: I'm even tough to my own self. I'm tough to my workers (ph). I make sure I get the best product, the freshest product to make my soup, and to my customers, to my own self, my workers, to my whole crew.

CAVUTO: All right. I just thought you were yelling at me, because you were scaring me, that's all. All right, Al, seriously, thank you very much.

John, I wish you both well on the venture.

BELLO: Thank you very much.

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