Soup Man at Work

Soup Kitchen International is a well-known soup restaurant at 259-A West 55th Street, near 8th Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City, run by Ali “Al” Yeganeh. It is part of the Original Soup Man chain of stores, which is also run by Yeganeh.
The 55th Street location was closed in 2004, with the windows soaped over. Yeganeh, however, kept the lease on the shop while he looked to expand into a broader market. This led to the formation of the Original Soup Man chain and eventually led to the reopening of Soup Kitchen International, which now bears the name “Original Soup Man” like all of Yeganeh’s other restaurants.
Yeganeh was the inspiration for the “Soup Nazi” character in the similarly named episode of the NBC television sitcom Seinfeld. Yeganeh was born in Iran[and had lived in Khorramshahr prior to moving to the US. He has stated on numerous occasions that he is very offended by the “Soup Nazi” moniker. It is in this episode where Yeganeh is fictionally portrayed as the tyrannical purveyor of his soups, making all of his customers follow a strict set of rules if they wish to successfully procure a bowl of one of his coveted soups. The real Yeganeh has stated that his rules are simply an attempt to keep the line moving and serve the largest number of people.
In order to provide the most efficient service to his customers, Yeganeh established a set of “rules” for ordering his soup:

  • Pick the soup you want.
  • Have your money ready.
  • Move to the extreme left after ordering.
  • Another added rule, created after the Seinfeld episode, states not to mention “The N Word [for Nazi].”
Supposedly, if these rules are not followed, the offending patron is denied service and usually sent to the back of the line. In more extreme cases the patron can be banned from the restaurant for extended periods of time. However, at the first franchise of Yeganeh’s “The Original Soup Man” restaurants (in Princeton, New Jersey), the rules are posted but not enforced in such an extreme manner. It is somewhat difficult to separate fact from fiction in this case, as reporters interviewing Yeganeh tend to casually alienate him at once by mentioning Seinfeld and the “Soup Nazi” description, which he finds to be very offensive and degrading to him as a chef and entrepreneur.
It has been revealed that once, Jerry Seinfeld and several members of the production team went to Soup Kitchen International for lunch weeks after “The Soup Nazi” aired. Upon recognizing Seinfeld, Yeganeh went into a profanity-filled rant about how the show had “ruined” his business and demanded an apology. Seinfeld allegedly gave “the most insincere, sarcastic apology ever given”, according to writer Spike Feresten. Obviously having seen the episode, Yeganeh then bellowed “No soup for you!” and ejected them from the restaurant.

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