The Original Soup Man
|The Original Soup Man|
The Original Soup Man logo
|Street address||259-A West 55th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue), in Midtown Manhattan|
|City||New York City|
The Original Soup Man (OTCQB: SOUP) is a chain of soup restaurants run by Ali "Al" Yeganeh, modeled after Yeganeh's original restaurant Soup Kitchen International, which was a well-known soup restaurant at 259-A West 55th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue), in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
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.
"The Original Soup Man" franchises have opened in various cities throughout the United States and Canada, including four in Manhattan. The soups are made in Yeganeh's industrial kitchen in Linden, New Jersey. The more than 500 franchises throughout the country are provided with some 45 soup varieties in 8 lb (3.6 kg) bags available in rotation. Chains participating in subfranchising the soups include Ranch*1 and Cold Stone Creamery. On March 3, 2008, the first Original Soup Man franchise on a college campus was opened in the Russell House University Union at the University of South Carolina. This venue closed near the end of spring 2011.
Reportedly, the strictness popularized by the original location need not necessarily be followed but Yeganeh has banned any Soup Nazi references by franchisees and their staff while on the job and has strongly encouraged his franchise owners to avoid references to Seinfeld in their promotions. (Though his marketing contains at least two Seinfeld references, including the phrase "Soup for you!" and a mention of the show on the back of his packaged soup offerings.) Yeganeh accepts media inquiries, but his "media rules" forbid mention of "the 'N' word" (for Nazi), personal questions, or follow-up questions. Interviews are conducted only via e-mail.
Soup Kitchen International Inc., "The Original Soup Man," and Yeganeh announced on April 22, 2005, that a retail line of "heat-n-serve" soups would be available in May at select grocery stores. There are now five different variations available made by SoBe Beverages and supervised by Al Yeganeh. The fresh soups are packaged in 15 oz. ‘Grab-N-Go’ clear packages. Since its launch May 2005, "The Original SoupMan" line of soups has found its way into 14 states and about 1,100 stores across the United States and Canada. The company also offers a line of frozen soups that, as of September 2007, are carried at SuperTarget stores.
Fame via Seinfeld
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. 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.
According to writer Spike Feresten, 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 what Feresten describes as "the most insincere, sarcastic apology ever given". Obviously having seen the episode, Yeganeh then bellowed, "No soup for you!" and ejected them from the restaurant.