Sarah Kahan grew up in a family where women know a thing or two about business. In fact, her parents encouraged Kahan and her siblings to do whatever they could to make a difference in the world. It was a sentiment later shared to Kahan by her rebbe as well. “My parents, Yakov and Frimmy Vizel, were always trying to make us tap into our creative side,” Kahan told The Jewish Press. “Growing up, all my friends knew one day I’d start a business.”
Kahan, a Satmar chassid, is the owner and operator of Everything Kosher Food Truck, which serves kosher sandwiches, hot entrees, pastries, cold and espresso beverages, salads and shakes. It’s located in the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, N.Y. The outdoor shopping complex has over 220 stores and is considered one of the largest centers of its kind in the world, attracting shoppers from nearby New York City, and many from miles farther. It’s just down the street from the town of Monroe, and the predominantly Satmar and Yiddish-speaking village of Kiryas Joel.
Kahan said the Satmar Rebbe, Rav Aaron Teitelbaum, was partly her inspiration and role model in bringing the much-needed kosher option to the shopping district. Kahan said she and her husband went to him and he told them that if they had the opportunity to provide kosher food it would be a big mitzvah. “It was a lot of work, and it was hard at times, but he kept pushing us and he said we shouldn’t give up,” Kahan recalled. “He said we were still young and every opportunity that comes up in this world we should grab that opportunity.”
Indeed, now only 22 years old, Kahan is young. Still, life has given her wisdom through overcoming immeasurable challenges. “My husband, Burach Kahan, and I are both cancer survivors,” she shared. Kahan was just five years old when she was diagnosed with the frightening illness, but now she says that’s in the past, and she has become all the better a person having survived it. “I met a lot of big doctors and survived a lot of life challenges, and it’s made me more confident.”
That confidence led her to march into the central management office on a visit to Woodbury Common. When she walked in the office, the management staff asked what she was looking for, and since she didn’t want to seem foolish, she said, “I’m thinking of opening a store.” Kahan said at first she told herself she was just joking. However, after meeting the leasing manager, she decided to open a cosmetic shop. Having proven herself with a successful business, the management approached her about opening a kosher food venue. Kahan said that originally management was against having a kosher store because it didn’t want its shops to be closed on Saturdays; shopping malls like for all stores to be open seven days a week. However, people in the management office recognized that at least 10% of their shoppers were Orthodox Jews, providing kosher venues that honored Shabbos became inevitable. Since space was limited, management accepted the idea of allowing a food truck to set up shop in the interior of the shopping complex. Now the truck is an attraction unto itself, and popular with Jewish and non-Jewish patrons.
“The truck gives it a unique spin,” she said.
Everything Kosher recently added a new halva shake to its menu. “It’s vanilla ice cream, halva, a very rich gio crème sauce and a wafer crunch,” Kahan explained. “Right away it has become a customer favorite.”
Now that Everything Kosher Food Truck is up and running, Kahan is looking ahead at more possibilities. Plans are in the works for Kahan to open an ice cream stand. In the interview she thanked her family and said, “Without them we wouldn’t be able to do this.” She also thanked the Satmar Rebbe himself. “Every week he asks us how it’s going, and he has given us a tremendous boost.”