Discovery of non-kosher cheese temporarily shuts down Island Crust


On October 30, a Seattle Vaad HaRabanim supervisor allegedly discovered non-kosher cheese at Island Crust Cafe on Mercer Island, causing the restaurant to shut down until further notice.

The supervisor, who requested to be unnamed due to Seattle Vaad protocol, claimed to have discovered several bags of non-kosher cheese in the refrigerator. Mane Idea staff saw photos of bags of non-kosher cheese in the fridge during a spot check. The Vaad is an authorized Jewish council that, among other things, supervises the kosher selling and production of food in the local Jewish community.

“We’re closing,” he said into his phone while ripping the pizza restaurant’s kosher certification, according to eyewitnesses, which included some of the Mane Idea staff who were there having lunch and working on homework.

Within about an hour of the discovery, the Vaad came out with a statement regarding the situation, explaining that Island Crust was immediately closed due to a kashrut violation. The statement read that items purchased that day may not be kosher.

The owner of Island Crust, Richard Williams, was out of town when this happened and explained that the mix-up was caused by confusion among the workers. “The employee didn’t know…they didn’t know any better,” he explained.

According to Williams, an employee told him earlier that week that the restaurant was running low on cheese and may have purchased more not knowing it needed to be kosher certified. He said at the time of reporting that he had not talked to the Vaad yet and was not sure exactly what happened.

“I felt like I was in a movie,” said Leah Menashe, an NYHS student who was there when the violation was discovered. “I was shocked, I never expected this to happen,” she said.

The Vaad did not answer the phone or return several emails from The Mane Idea.

On November 7, the Vaad released another statement, reporting that the restaurant had undergone rigorous re-kashering and will reopen with around-the-clock kosher supervision.

“It’s one of the few restaurants in Seattle, and we all really value it,” said Menashe. “I’m excited to go back; I love going there with my friends to study, or just hang out and eat pizza.”

However, on November 8, the Vaad sent out another alert to the community saying that an unanticipated staff shortage will delay the reopening another week.


This story was originally published in The Mane Idea on