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‘Soup Nazi’ packs his ladles for London

Al Yeganeh, who inspired ‘Seinfeld’ character, to open franchises in U.K.
/ Source: The Associated Press

New York chef Al Yeganeh, who inspired the brusque “Soup Nazi” character on “Seinfeld,” is taking his recipes to Britain.

Yeganeh and his partners plan to open 50 Original SoupMan franchises during the next year, chief executive John Bello said Wednesday. He said the first franchises would be in central London, Manchester and Birmingham.

The company also hopes to open outlets in Germany, Italy and Japan.

Yeganeh’s takeout restaurant, Soup Kitchen International, became a midtown Manhattan tourist attraction after the 1995 “Seinfeld” episode in which Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer have their soup orders abruptly cut off by a gruff man with a thick mustache.

Employees at the international locations will not yell the character’s trademark “No soup for you!” at customers, but will enforce Yeganeh’s strict rules — “Have your money ready!” and “Move to the extreme left after ordering!”

“We think it will be an exciting concept that people in England will embrace,” said Bello. “Al’s an artist and very particular. ... His work is clearly soup. His life is his soup.”

The London outlets will offer soups from seafood bisque and lentil to chilled gazpacho, and there are plans to package the product to sell in grocery stores, Bello said.

When new locations open, Yeganeh donates money to a hunger charity in the area, his spokesman, John Rarrick, said.

The original store opened in 1984 and closed in April 2004 to prepare for the franchise expansion, Rarrick said.

Original SoupMan has 20 franchises in North America, and hopes to expand to 1,000.