There is a wide variety of offerings for Ravens fans when it comes to eating and drinking during games at M&T Bank Stadium — even for those who observe the dietary laws of kashrut.
The Kosher Grille features a pair of locations on the first level of the stadium, at Sections 130 and 151, says Salomon Bemaras, a co-owner of the food stands. Bemaras said his business has operated at Ravens games for the past four years.
Bemaras said the Kosher Grille serves between 500 to 600 people per game, and the business has developed a special relationship with fans who keep buying food from them on a regular basis.
The Kosher Grille is under the supervision of Rabbi Y. Zvi Weiss, spiritual leader of Bais HaKnesses Ohr HaChaim Synagogue in Northwest Baltimore.
“I think the quality of the food and the quality of the service helps us,” said Bemaras, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who relocated to Baltimore 20 years ago. “Many of the people come back whenever they’re at the game. They come back again and again.”
Joe V. Arena, assistant general manager for Aramark at M&T Bank Stadium, said only about a quarter of stadiums in the National Football League provide kosher-exclusive locations. But he said the Ravens received “repeated guest requests” for kosher fare.
“[Kosher Grille] provides top-quality products for our guests who keep kosher,” Arena said. “It is M&T Bank’s goal to offer a wide variety of products for all of our guests to enjoy, and it is our hope that providing a top-notch kosher program extends a warm welcome to the kosher consumer at the stadium.”
The Kosher Grille features an eclectic menu that includes gourmet kosher hot dogs, spicy Italian sausages, hamburgers, pastrami sandwiches, potato knishes and hot pretzels. Also, there are peppers, onions and home-made barbecue that is quite popular with fans, according to Bamaras.
Also, Bemaras said, Ravens fans can buy very cold beer at the Kosher Grille. “We always tell customers that we have the coldest beer in the stadium,” he said with a laugh. “They really like that.”
The crew that works at each of the Kosher Grille locations has a long day. Most of the Ravens’ home games begin at 1 p.m., and Bemaras said those working at the stands come to work at 9 a.m. to prepare all of the menu items.
The Ravens’ games usually take about three hours, unless they go into overtime, and Bemaras said those working at the Kosher Grille finish up about 90 minutes after the conclusion of games. So if there’s no overtime, it winds up being about a 9-to-5:30 workday, he said.
In addition to M&T Stadium, the Kosher Grille has been operating at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for five years and is located right by the F Gate on the first level. As for the Ravens, Bemaras and his group bought the kosher stand business from the previous ownership group — Kosher Sports Inc. — that had been at M&T Bank Stadium. Bemaras said his group fared so well that the team quickly offered them a second location.
Bemaras said that he particularly enjoys running the stands at the Ravens games because the crowds at those contests have a different feel to them than at baseball games.
“For me, I like it because you feel part of something,” he said. “It’s teamwork. Everybody’s cheering for the Ravens. You feel like you’re part of the whole stadium.”
During the week, Bemaras keeps busy at The Daily Special, a restaurant that serves kosher food and is located at 201 N. Charles Street, in a research building affiliated with Johns Hopkins Medicine
The Kosher Grille, meanwhile, is closed on Shabbat and other major Jewish holidays at Camden Yards and M&T Stadium. This weekend, though, the stands will be ready for the start of the Ravens’ 2019 home season.
“We are all cheering for the Ravens,” Bemaras said. “We do our best to have people enjoy the day.”
For information, visit facebook.com/kosherstand/.
Jeff Seidel is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.