RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Even casual fans of the old "Seinfeld" sitcom - in fact, even those who never watched it would recall the talented but temperamental character known as the Soup Nazi. The real-life soup man, Al Yeganeh, has never been amused by the title. Yesterday, after a hiatus of six years though, the shop that made him famous reopened in midtown Manhattan at its old location.
NPR's Margot Adler reports.
MARGOT ADLER: There are 22 SoupMan stores these days, but the faithful say there's only one that counts, and they lined up around the block, eager for hot soup on a day with temperatures close to 90. The president of the company, Robert Bertran, had this to say about the weather.
Mr. ROBERT BERTRAN (President, SoupMan): There's no season for soup. People eat soup all year.
ADLER: A while back, The Wall Street Journal published a list of rules for interviewing Al Yeganeh. They included: No tabloids, no use of the N word - as in soup Nazi - no personal questions, no follow-up questions.
In the past, Bertran says, Seinfeld himself couldn't get through the door.
Mr. BERTRAN: Jerry has come to his store a couple of times when he opened, and he wouldn't let him in.
ADLER: Why all the intrigue? Will he be here, won't he be here, etc.
Mr. BERTRAN: I can't answer that. I mean, we've asked him if he is coming; he has not said he's coming. And he has not told us for sure he's not coming. He could be here right now. He lives he only lives about four blocks away.
ADLER: In the "Seinfeld" episodes, Yeganeh is portrayed as a crazy authoritarian.
(Soundbite of TV show, "Seinfeld")
Mr. JASON ALEXANDER (Actor): (as George) Excuse me, I think you forgot my bread.
Mr. LARRY THOMAS (Actor): (as Soup Nazi) Bread, two dollars extra.
Mr. ALEXANDER: (as George) Two dollars? Everyone in front of me got free bread.
Mr. THOMAS: You want bread?
Mr. ALEXANDER: (as George) Yes, please.
Mr. THOMAS: Three dollars.
Mr. ALEXANDER: (as George) What?
Mr. THOMAS: No soup for you.
ADLER: Yeganeh hates the phrase no soup for you and the term Soup Nazi. On CNN three years ago, he said his product didn't need Jerry Seinfeld; it spoke for itself for a quarter of a century.
(Soundbite of TV show)
Mr. AL YEGANEH (Soup Man): My product doesn't need a clown. My products speak for themselves(ph).
ADLER: But on the line, "Seinfeld" was the reason many had come. Dan Lise is from Australia.
Mr. DAN LISE: I've got to try his soup; it's something you've got to do.
ADLER: Have you seen the episode?
Mr. LISE: Oh, I have indeed seen the episode, probably 50 times.
ADLER: Dan Hank, a film producer from the Upper West Side, said he had come to the Soup Man for 10 years before "Seinfeld." He was going for the lobster bisque. And when he got it, he wasn't disappointed.
Mr. DAN HANK (Film Producer): It is fantastic. The old restaurant had larger chunks of lobster in the lobster bisque, but when it comes down to it, it's really about the flavor. And the flavor of this is as it was the last time he was at this location.
ADLER: The non-appearance of the soup man was clearly an attempt to focus on the soup. And for some, it worked.
Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.
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