Seinfeld’s ‘Soup Nazi’ reopens in NYC

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 22nd July 2010

The New York City soup stall which inspired Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Soup Nazi’ has reopened its doors, with its strict rules about ordering soup firmly in place.

Al Yeganeh, the famously touchy ‘Original Soup Man’, ran a soup stall on 55th Street in Manhattan for 20 years, requiring patrons to “Pick the soup you want. Have your money ready. Move to the extreme left after ordering,” or risk getting the short end of Yeganeh’s temper.

Seinfeld’s “No soup for you!” Soup Nazi, with his peremptory denial of his delicious soups, has entered the pop culture hall of fame. The episode earned Seinfeld a lifetime ban from Yeganeh’s shop, but Seinfeld didn’t let the reopening pass unnoticed.

“A car pulled up, the window came down and Jerry stuck his head out and said ‘You really ought to take care of that guy, he’s very important,’ and he smiled,” said Bob Bertrand, president of The Original SoupMan.

Yeganeh shut up shop in 2004 and sold the rights to his business and recipes, which are produced and sold commercially under The Original SoupMan brand, but retained the lease on his Manhattan location.

Although he lives close by, the media-shy Soup Man himself did not attend the opening and ceremonial slicing of a zucchini, but Bertrand said that despite his absence, Yeganeh remained the heart of the company.

“He still has a key. He handpicked the operator. His soups are his babies,” said Bertrand.

“That’s his mystique. He’s an artist and all artists are a little bit eccentric. This is his passion, he takes pride and he takes his soup very, very seriously.”

‘As much as they depicted him in Seinfeld, he’s a businessman, he knew people were waiting for an hour, he didn’t have time to chit chat. Move the line, get more people in, sell more soup,’ he said.

The company is certainly going to do its best to fulfill that goal. The Original SoupMan now has outlets in 9 US states and one in Canada, offering varieties include the famous lobster and crab bisques, as well as a vegetarian, Mexican-style and broth option, going like hotcakes at US$7 for a small cup or $20 for just under a litre. The company also offers pre-packaged heat-n-serve varieties, and even an online store for those who admire from afar.

While the newly-opened store has a webcam installed in the kitchen so Yeganeh can keep an eye on proceedings, don’t expect him to shout at you if you get your order wrong.

“He’s never gonna get back behind the counter and ladle soup, except as a guest,” said Bertrand.