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Real-life 'Soup Nazi' reopens shop in Manhattan

From Jessica Naziri, CNN
  • Soup Kitchen International reopened Tuesday
  • Al Yeganeh was made famous in an episode of "Seinfeld"
  • His midtown Manhattan store had been closed for 6 years
  • Yeganeh is expected to make sporadic appearances at the store

New York (CNN) -- Get in line, have your money ready and move to your extreme left -- Al Yeganeh, "the Original SoupMan," is back. He reopened his famed soup store Tuesday in midtown Manhattan.

Yeganeh and his Soup Kitchen International first rose to fame after he was caricatured in the long-running NBC-TV show "Seinfeld" as the "Soup Nazi," a cranky and demanding soup-stand cook who bellowed "No soup for you!" to customers who didn't follow his strict rules for ordering.

Yeganeh, who first opened his shop in 1984, closed the store six years ago, but kept the lease to pursue franchise opportunities and a line of frozen soups with the Original SoupMan brand.

Loyalty to the brand apparently has not faltered. Avid soup fans lined up around the block Tuesday during New York's steamy heat wave to get a taste.

Greg Packer secured the first spot in line by getting to the storefront at 5 a.m. "I love Al. I love soup. And I can't wait for that first bowl of soup," said Packer, who chose chicken vegetable.

Daniel Hank, also in the line, said he didn't care if it was 90 degrees or 90 below outside -- he would wait for his favorite soup, the lobster bisque.

"It's like there's an entire lobster in the cup. You open up the top and a claw comes out and strangles your taste buds. It's so special," Hank said.

Chef Dan Rubano, who mentored with Yeganeh, was at the store a day before its opening, helping to set things up.

"We are keeping the original recipes and adding more to the menu," Rubano said.

Although Yeganeh didn't stop by for opening, Rubano said he's expected to make sporadic appearances.

According to the "Seinfeld" Web site, Yeganeh was at first unhappy with the publicity from the "Soup Nazi" episode and was quoted as saying he threatened to "smack" comedian Jerry Seinfeld's face.

Seinfeld, whose title character was banned during the "Soup Nazi" episode, declined to comment on the store's reopening.

CNN's Jennifer Rizzo contributed to this report.