How Seinfeld's Soup Nazi Episode Ruined The Real Take-Out Owner's Life

One of the most iconic television plots of all time can be found in Season 7, Episode 6 of "Seinfeld." Fanatics of the award-winning, New York City-based '90s sitcom — and even some folks who only know the bare minimum about the program and its characters — are familiar with the infamous character The Soup Nazi. But who exactly is this unfortunately named antagonist, and how has the show's subplot made such an impact on a real person's livelihood?

In the "series-defining" episode, each of the show's central four characters — neighbors and best friends Jerry Seinfeld (played by himself), Elaine Benes (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander), and Cosmo Kramer (played by Michael Richards) — visits a local take-out soup stand. While the squad is typically loyal to their neighborhood greasy spoon, Tom's Restaurant, they catch wind of the highly praised soup joint and want to see what the buzz is all about. The soup eatery's menu items are so good, hungry customers literally wait in line around the block for hours just to get their lunchtime soup fix, IMDb reports. However, whenever the shop's owner, Yev Kassem (played by Larry Thomas), becomes peeved by customers' ordering styles or their general mannerisms, he loudly scolds them and exclaims, "No soup for you!" and sends them on their merry way, humiliated and soupless.

What happens in 'The Soup Nazi' episode?

Yev Kassem was given the nickname "The Soup Nazi" as a reference to his merciless personality and overly demanding behavior similar to — as one would assume — Adolf Hitler. In the beginning of the episode, George complains about not receiving a piece of bread to enjoy with his soup. As he continues to complain, the annoyed owner takes his lunch away and returns his money. Later on, Jerry and Sheila, his girlfriend of the moment, annoy customers in line with their "baby talk" and public displays of affection. The altercation results in Jerry breaking up with Sheila to stay on The Soup Nazi's good side.

Before entering the soup stand with George (who has learned his lesson on how to properly order), Elaine, the show's sharp-witted female protagonist, played by the legendary Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is skeptical of what she heard about The Soup Nazi's antics, until he angrily denies her service for placing her hands on the counter, for being indecisive with her order, and for telling him that he resembles Al Pacino in the movie "Scent of a Woman." All of this, of course, infuriates Kassem. As punishment, The Soup Nazi hollers his all-too-familiar line and bans Elaine from entering his soup stand for one year. (You can watch the hilarious clip on YouTube). And, in an unexpected turn of events, the ever-eccentric Kramer ends up befriending Kassem, and Elaine discovers the soup recipes in an armoire, threatening to oust The Soup Nazi.

However, few "Seinfeld" viewers may know that the harsh-mouthed character was actually based on a real person. But was the real guy as bitter and intolerant as the show portrayed him to be? And how did the episode supposedly affect his reputation?

How does the real owner feel about his fictional portrayal as The Soup Nazi?

Well, to start off, let's just say the inspiration behind the role is not too fond of the episode nor of his semi-fictional depiction. The Soup Nazi was played by actor Larry Thomas, who later made cameo appearances in "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," "Arrested Development," and "Drake & Josh." The notorious character is based on the Iranian-American chef Ali "Al" Yeganeh, the real owner of Soup Kitchen International, a former take-out soup stall in Midtown Manhattan. (The brand is now a chain known as The Original Soupman.) Yeganah's homemade soups were definitely well-loved for their deliciousness, and the man himself was known for his strict ordering regimen, reports Showbiz CheatSheet. The idea for the episode came about when screenwriter Spike Feresten told show creator Larry David about the real New York soup vendor.

The critically acclaimed, heavily quoted 1995 episode brought tons of attention to the soup shop, sparking curiosity among the show's viewers, particularly New York residents. One day, as the story goes, Jerry Seinfeld and some other show staffers dropped by the restaurant to say hello and help support the small business. According to some reports, Yeganeh became annoyed and yelled at them when he recognized who they were, and explicitly told them that the show ruined his reputation. Seinfeld attempted to apologize, but instead, Yeganeh exclaimed, "No soup for you!" and demanded they promptly leave. To this day, any references to the show, the one-liner quote, or the arguably politically incorrect and insensitive nickname are forbidden in all of his restaurants (per IMDb). Ah, the '90s... what a time to be alive!