Pita Plus in College Park, MD has suddenly closed without explanation and is being converted into a halal shop. Some Jewish students at the University of Maryland are up in arms that the only off campus kosher eatery is now closed. Students can still access Kosher food on campus at the University of Maryland Hillel.
The university’s Jewish community has expressed frustration at the closing of Pita Plus, which many relied on as a local spot to take families and visitors who keep kosher. Others argue that the lack of an off-campus kosher restaurant presents a challenge for getting meals that adhere to their religious dietary restrictions.
“It’s really upsetting,” said junior Stephanie Cantor, a member of the university’s Jewish Leadership Council. “I know there’s a really large population that definitely loved to have this as an alternative to Hillel, especially for freshmen living in dorms who don’t have the option to cook meals.”
“Obviously I was disappointed because that was where, if I wanted to eat out, that’s where I’d go,” said Nina Calmenson, president of Kedma, the Orthodox student group at the university. “I was disappointed and surprised; they’re the only kosher restaurant in College Park. Now, you would have to drive to Silver Spring or Rockville, and in my opinion that’s a far drive.”
Students who can’t travel that far must come up with other food options. They will need to rely more on self-prepared food and the cafeteria at Hillel, a Jewish student group, they said.
And although Hillel offers kosher meal plans and a new market – with better food than before, some students said – some see dining there as a last resort.