Portland’s Own Ben & Esther’s Wants to Make Vegan Jewish Delis Ubiquitous

When Justin King opened his Roseway neighborhood bagel shop, Ben & Esther’s, in 2019, it was designed as a traditional Jewish deli. The shop, named for King’s grandparents, served matzo ball soup, lox, and whitefish salad, as well as bagels slathered with smoked salmon schmear. King wasn’t eating any of those things, however. “I’ve been plant-based for a long time,” he says. “When I opened Ben & Esther’s, I was very business-minded, and I thought that opening a traditional Jewish deli would be good for business. After a year, I couldn’t reconcile that with my principles.”

So, a year into owning his business, in the midst of the pandemic,

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