Everyone has their favorite one-off Seinfeld character, whether it’s the Caped Lawyer or the Soup Nazi. It was series co-creator Larry David who donned the questionable accessory to play the former, though there doesn’t appear to have been a real-life equivalent. The exacting soup chef played by Larry Thomas, however, was inspired by Al Yeganeh, founder of The Original Soup Man restaurant chain in New York. The strict rules at his Soup Kitchen International were adopted by the Seinfeld character, but Yeganeh was never all that thrilled about the “homage.” He wouldn’t allow “no soup for you” jokes at any of his restaurants, though he did eventually license his recipes—including jambalaya—and moniker to Soupman, Inc., which went all in on the Soup Nazi stuff. The company even teamed up with Thomas for promotions.
The company’s story has taken on a Seinfeld twist, though, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with debts ranging from $10-$50 million, according to USA Today. Which isn’t such an outlandish development in and of itself, but it comes after the federal government indicted Soupman’s chief financial officer on tax evasion charges, who could probably use that caped lawyer right about now. Soupman, Inc. hasn’t shuttered its doors, yet; it’s still operating off some private investor funds. Yeganeh hasn’t weighed in on the matter, presumably because he still has his own tight soup ship to run.