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No Soup For You!

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Feb 12, 2005
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'Soup Nazi' to Launch Takeout Chain

<!-- END HEADLINE --> <!-- BEGIN STORY BODY --> By LINDA A. JOHNSON, AP Business WriterSat Apr 30,11:39 AM ET

The brusque New York chef who was lampooned on "Seinfeld" as the "Soup Nazi" plans to open a chain of takeout soup stands across North America. But don't expect the authentically rude New York treatment.

Signs will be posted in each of "The Original Soup Man" franchises bearing chef Al Yeganeh's strict rules for ordering, such as "Have your money ready!" and "Move to the extreme left after ordering!" But a company spokesman said workers will be prohibited from shouting, "No soup for you!" at customers who disobey.

Yeganeh and his partners have signed deals for 123 outlets so far, with the first slated to open in the New Jersey town of Ridgewood this summer.

The group hopes to have 1,000 franchises at shopping mall food courts and airports in the United States and Canada within seven years. The partners also plan to sell refrigerated soup in markets.

"We really plan to take this whole concept international because Al is world renowned," said John Bello, chairman of Soup Kitchen International, the five-month-old venture named for Yeganeh's original storefront restaurant in New York City.

The storefront has been a tourist attraction since the 1995 "Seinfeld" episode in which Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer become frequent visitors to the Soup Nazi's takeout restaurant before angering him and having their soup orders abruptly cut off.

As in the "Seinfeld" episode, Yeganeh's real recipes are closely guarded secrets. He and his chefs have been working with experts at Rutgers University to adapt the recipes to preserve taste and freshness when making huge quantities of soup and shipping it across the continent, according to operations manager Linda Gavin.

"He is a typical high-strung chef," she said, and his manner was portrayed "pretty accurately" on "Seinfeld."

(So high-strung, in fact, Yeganeh hung up on an Associated Press reporter who had lined up an interview — before a single question was asked — then refused all further requests for an interview.)

The soup stands will bear Yeganeh's Original Soup Man logo with his photo. For $10, customers will get eight ounces of soup — the menu includes seafood bisque, chili and other more exotic soups — plus bread, a drink, fresh fruit and a chocolate.

Scott Ruddy, a Bronx sheet metal business owner who frequently bought soup from Yeganeh's storefront in Manhattan, said he is "100 percent confident" the takeout franchise he plans to open in September near Princeton University will succeed.

"It is bar none the best soup ever," he said.