26 Friday, August 24, 1984
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Bruce M. Weiss
Continued from preceding page
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in Southfield; and General Nutrition
Tofutti is also available in single
servings at the Plaza Deli in South-
field; Custard Ice Cream in South-
field; and Sandy's Stockade in South-
"A lot of the professionals in the
ice cream business told me I was
wasting my time, and that I wouldn't
be able to produce this sort of product,
because they had tried and they had
failed," said Mintz, "but I kept on
sticking with it. And with the help of
the Lubavitcher Rebbe, thank God, I
was given the spiritual guidance to
keep on going."
Tofutti is actually being distrib-
uted by the Haagen-Dazs company. It
is produced in a plant in Philadel-
phia. There are current plans to move
the headquarters from Bensonhurst
to Rahway, N.J. There are also possi-
ble plans to build production
facilities in other parts of the world.
At this rate, that might become more
of a necessity than anything else.
"We're getting accepted by
people all over the world. They want
the product. I just had a person call
me this morning from Australia,"
Mintz said. "We've had feelers from
reps in Paris, London, Sweden, De-
nmark and Japan. I've had over two
dozen requests from people in Israel,
and inquiries from people in Ireland,
Taiwan and Red China."
Mintz kisses the mezuzah and
then leads his guests through a door
into his lab. There, rows and rows of
amber-colored bottles containing
flavor extracts, rattle with the ap-
proaching B-line subway on a stain-
less steel table. An old bearded man
named Reuben pushes his tsitsit
away as he washes out a Tofutti con-
tainer. The Tofutti recipe is a secret
that Mintz has only shared with his
Mintz treats the equipment in
the lab with a certain sanctity. He
said there are days when he spends
up to 15 hours dreaming up new re-
cipes using tofu."
"People ask me if this is just a
fad," he said. "I tell them absolutely
not. We haven't even scratched the
surface yet. All of this is a dream for
me, and there's no end to the dream."
Indeed, the dream did cost him
his first marriage in 1982. "Bean
curd wasn't exciting to her," he said.
"She kept asking me when I was
going to give it all up. But I had a
whole new world opening up." Mintz
has since married Rachel Avalagon,
who works with him in the company.
Polner said that she had to push him
out the door of the headquarters to
get him to shul on time on the wed-
Mintz, though, would rather talk
business: He's a workaholic who
attended the Lubavitch Yeshiva and
Brooklyn College before working as a
fur contractor and then starting up in
the food business.
"I think the reason we might
have come out with this before any-
one else is because of my experience.
When I had my gourmet restaurants,
I just didn't sit at the register and
take the money. I worked in the
kitchen. Everything we sold, I helped
make myself. So when it came to tofu,
I had the food preparation back-
"There's a need for this item," he
continued. "This is not a fad. People
today are concerned about their di-
ets. We managed to reach them with
a product before everyone else."
Mintz has some other plans for
tofu up his sleeve. Don't be surprised
to see a non-dairy yogurt made with
"People ask me if this is
just a fad. I tell them
absolutely not. We haven't
even scratched the surface
yet. All of this is a dream
for me, and there's no end
to the dream."
tofu and vegetables come out soon.
He is also developing a tofu pasta.
There is also a chance that soon small
Tofutti shops will be scooping out the
dessert all over the country. Another
tofu concept will be the tofu fast food
shop where everything from tofu
burgers to tofu drinks will be served.
"I don't think this product could
have made it 10 years ago," Mintz
said. "It's all a matter of time and
place. I stay humble about all of this
success. I will never forget where I
Tofu Time Inc. is a public com-
pany with the price of its stock tripl-
ing since December of 1983. Mintz
has made sure that the Lubavitch
movement shares in his success by
donating stock in the company to
"I don't want to lose perspec-
tive," he said. "God forbid, I lose
perspective. When we first moved
here, we had one room, and now we
have 15 rooms. I remember in May of
1982 I got a call for five gallons of
Tofutti. The guy said he'd pay me if
people bought it. I put the five gallons
in my car and took it to him. By the
time I got back to the office, I had a
phone call from the same restaurant.
They had sold out and had a line of
people waiting for me to come back
with more. I was excited."
Toffuti has only 128 calories per
four ounce serving comparesi to 300
for ice cream and about 150 for
Mintz didn't plan for anyone else
to get fat on his product. Except for
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