Edgeville Buzz

Andersonville’s Popular Middle Eastern Bakery To Unveil New Restaurant Soon

10675730_711236388975533_3877374435266677620_nIf you’ve been happy with your artichoke and cheese pies, your Babaghanuge, your hummus, and your lentil soups from the Middle East Bakery & Grocery store in Andersonville, get ready to be even happier soon.

That’s when the quick-serve restaurant inside the current store at the corner of Foster Avenue and Clark Street will likely open for breakfast as well as during the day, offering even more vegan fare and some gluten-free foods, as well. The location will also include an industrial bakery that will provide wholesale products.

“Everyone is asking us, ‘When are you going to open?’” owner Hisham Khalifeh laughed on Tuesday. “We have customers (who) keep coming here for the past 25 or 20 or 15 years. The customers in our place (are) not customers. They are family and friends. We know everybody and everybody knows us. We are excited (about the renovations.)”

Joel Berman of Joel Berman Architecture & Design is the architect on the project. He said on Wednesday that the store has gone through a number of changes since he first did a walk-through in October 2013. He said the design and permitting were on schedule.

The retail portion of the grocery store has a public entrance on Foster Avenue. The baked goods that used to be on the eastern part of the store are now on the Foster side of the facility. The space also has a new floor, new light fixtures, upgraded ceilings, new displays, more products, and a new point of sale and entry. It will continue to sell coffees, teas, spices, baked goods, sweets, and prepackaged bulk goods.

To be unveiled later on this month are the industrial bakery and what Berman is calling a quick-serve restaurant. 

The industrial bakery will have specialty Middle Eastern baking equipment that is different than standard American baking fare, he said. It will include traditional Middle Eastern ovens and conveyer systems to produce items such as pita bread and pita chips, Khalifeh said.

The conveyer systems carry baked goods, “and the equipment is very specialized for the food that (Khalifeh) prepares,” Berman added. “At some point, he will take the paper off the windows and there will be a clear view from Foster of the entire industrial bakery.”

Khalifeh said it’s taken some time for the baking equipment to arrive and that he hopes the machines will be put together by the end of this weekend.

PitaThe restaurant portion will seat about 40 people and will have its public entrance on the northwest corner of Clark and Foster. It will serve breakfast and an expanded menu beyond Khalifeh’s current offerings. An unusual focal point, Berman said, will be the custom-fabricated oven made by Zaid Bakri.

The renovations will also allow Khalifeh to expand his catering business, Berman said.

Berman said he was a longtime patron of the Middle East Bakery & Grocery before he even moved his firm to 5212 N. Clark St., right above Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine. His other neighborhood designs of existing businesses include Big Jones; In Fine Spirits Wine Shop; The Brown Elephant; The Galleria; The Coffee Studio; Murphy’s Fit; Giordano Dance Studio; and Revive Spa.

“Personally, I’m excited that (Khalifeh) will be open for breakfast,” Berman said. “I’m looking forward to being there in the morning and trying all his great food and drinking Turkish coffee. He’s bringing really very unique quick-serve food that’s unusually healthy to the area. He is going to be the go-to place for anybody who doesn’t want to load up on sugar (in the mornings).”

“I think everybody will be happy that he’s open,” Berman added.

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