Soup Nazi eyes line-ups in T.O.

Al Yeganeh, the New York City soup chef made famous in the mid-‘90s as the churlish “Soup Nazi” character on TV’s Seinfeld, is selling franchises. And he plans to include Toronto in his Original SoupMan empire.

The Toronto Star
September 19, 2004

Soup Nazi eyes line-ups in T.O.
Linda Barnard

There will be soup for you, Toronto.

Al Yeganeh, the New York City soup chef made famous in the mid-‘90s as the churlish “Soup Nazi” character on TV’s Seinfeld, is selling franchises. And he plans to include Toronto in his Original SoupMan empire.

But getting an interview with Yeganh, whose character gained notoriety for the cry, “No soup for you!” to those who failed to order their potage properly, was hardly duck soup.

Any reporter who wants to talk to him has to follow “the rules” for media posted on his website (www.originalsoupman.com) - rules that include no personal queries and no mention of “the N (Nazi) word.”

“I want everybody in the whole planet to know who is the king. I am the king,” says an anxious-sounding Yeganeh about his franchise plans when he finally agrees to a telephone interview. Passionate about soup, his voice gets higher and his rapid-fire delivery even faster as he speaks.

Yeganeh, who insists his strict rules about how to order soup (“move to the extreme left. How many times must I tell people this?”) are to ensure efficiency, has a soft spot for Canadians.

“People come from all over the world for my soup,” he says, “I have so many coming, the whole family, kids, grandmas. I feel bad for the children. I feel so guilty. Why don’t I take my soup to Canada?”

Not only does Toronto boast perfect soup-sipping weather, he says he likes the city. He visited friends here two years ago.

So far, there have been about 600 franchise inquiries, says Yeganeh, including a handful from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Franchises will cost $30,000 (U.S.), plus 5 per cent royalty on gross sales.

Bill McCreery, vice-president of retail development for Soup Kitchen International, says Yeganeh stands to make about $5 million (U.S.) based on sales.

The soup will be made in a central New Jersey kitchen, then frozen and shipped to stores.

"I will only cook. It's like surgery," says Yeganeh. "Nobody can come into my kitchen. I make the soup. Your kid will have it; your mother will have it. It's like putting your family in the hands of a surgeon."

As for comic Jerry Seinfeld, whom Yeganeh calls "Jerry the clown" with "no talent, no brain, trying to use people," there will definitely be no soup for him.

"He detests Jerry," says McCreery. "He will argue he was very famous before the Sienfeld episode. That line-up (at his shop) went around the corner long before that episode. Al's perspective is he made Jerry famous."


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