Today at Thinkfest, we put Nicole Marquis (HipCityVeg), Justin Rosenberg (Honeygrow) and Steve Cook (Federal Donuts, Dizengoff)–three of the most successful fast-casual operators in the city–together on one stage and let Danya Henninger grill them (see what I did there?) for an hour about their businesses. The big question was how the quick serve/fast casual business model is revolutionizing and drastically re-shaping the food scene in Philly and beyond, but along the way they also got into some other issue. Like what the original name was for HipCityVeg (The Veggie Queen) and how companies like Apple and Starbucks informed the branding, naming and, ultimately, the creation of all these restaurants.
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La Boîte Dinner at Abe Fisher
Just over two years ago, Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov invited New York “spice whisperer,” Lior Lev Sercarsz to come down to Philadelphia to collaborate with Percy Street’s Erin O’Shea. The results were spectacular as this post lays out.
On Wednesday, June 15th, Sercarsz, the owner of New York’s famed spice shop, La Boîte, returns to Philadelphia for a night at Abe Fisher. At Abe Fisher, Sercarsz will join with executive chef Yehuda Sichel for a four-course meal that will combine the Eastern European Jewish influences of chef Yehuda’s cooking with the powerful flavors found in La Boîte spices.
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Bloomberg Business named Dizengoff’s opening in New York’s Chelsea Market as one of the 26 most exciting restaurant openings in the world this spring. The first New York venture of Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook (Zahav, Abe Fisher, Percy Street, Federal Donuts) is hailed as a reason for hummus lovers to rejoice.
The New York City Dizengoff will offer Israeli wines by the glass and shakshuka all day. That’s a treat Philadelphians only get on Sundays ($11 per bowl). Other restaurants in the list range from a French cafe at Versailles to a new casual restaurant in Copenhagen from the team that gave the world Noma, a restaurant praised as the best in the world. Not bad company for a hummusiya.
Pastramen soup from a Rooster Soup pop-up
It’s nice to see that the Wall Street Journal has discovered Philadelphia’s dining scene. Just a month after featuring Kensington Quarters, the paper is back with a story on Michael Solomonov, Steve Cook, Broad Street Ministry and Rooster Soup Company. While the charitable background of Rooster Soup will be familiar to Foobooz readers, there are new details about Rooster Soup Company to share.
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Cabbage hummus plate at Dizengoff.
This weekend a tipster alerted Eater NY to a permit for a Dizengoff in New York’s Chelsea Market. CooknSolo principal Steve Cook acknowledged to Michael Klein on Sunday that he and Michael Solomonov were bringing their hummusiya to New York’s Meatpacking District. The market is already home to two Philadelphia exports, Stephen Starr’s Buddakan and Morimoto. The market, which also houses studios for Food Network was once home of another Philadelphia-rooted concept, the short-lived collaboration between Questlove and Starr, Hybird.
Dizengoff is the first but is unlikely to be the last CooknSolo project that heads to New York. In an entertaining interview with Grub Street, Cook and Solomonov say they are also looking to open a New York Federal Donuts. What won’t be heading to New York is a branch of Zahav, which Solomonov says would slay in New York, “but then we’d have to fucking move to New York.”
No opening timeline has been announced.
Blockbuster: Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook Sign a Lease Inside Chelsea Market [Eater]
Illustration by Gluekit
“If I had a nickel for every time I heard the expression ‘I’m going to be the Chipotle of blank,’ I’d be rich,” says Steve Cook, the local restaurateur who, along with James Beard winning chef Michael Solomonov, owns the fine-dining eateries Zahav and Abe Fisher. Of course, given that Cook and Solomonov also own fast-casual hummusiya Dizengoff and the fast-growing Federal Donuts empire — five locations and counting — it’s probably something he’s said to himself.
Who can blame him? As Philadelphia diners have stepped up their demand for good food at every price point, a whole new market for quality eateries has opened up — one that just happens to include more takeout counters than OpenTable reservations. Read more »
Michael Solomonov’s Abe Fisher will be opening on Tuesday, September 2nd. Co-owner Steven Cook says “everything from Montreal-style smoked meat and Ukrainian borscht to the American Jewish tradition of Chinese food on Christmas is fair game” for the restaurant that celebrates the Jewish Diaspora.
The Sansom Street restaurant next to Cook+Solo’s Dizengoff and across from Federal Donuts will have seating for 50 plus a full-service bar that seats ten. Two kitchen counter seats will offer a front row view of the action on the line. These seats will be available nightly for walk-in guests.
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Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook have just teased three menu items for Rooster Soup Co., the hopeful product of Federal Donuts and Broad Street Ministry’s kickstarter, and we’re salivating.
Check out what will be on the menu »
Photo by Steve Legato
Steven Cook and Michael Solomonov who have gifted us with Federal Donuts, Percy Street Barbecue and Zahav have two new restaurants planned for early 2014. Both will open opposite Federal Donuts on the 1600 block of Sansom Street.
Dizengoff, a casual hummusiya will offer varieties of hummus with fresh pita, condiments and pickles. The 25-seat space will offer a select beer list and be open seven days a week. The restaurant is named for Dizengoff Street, a major Tel Aviv boulevard and the restaurant will be modeled after the hummus spots found all over Israel.
Abe Fisher promises to be “an approachable restaurant serving the cuisine of the Jewish diaspora.” Solomonov says the food will be inspired by “the foods and dishes found in the Jewish communities outside of Israel, from Montreal and New York, to France, Hungary and Italy.”
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Michael Klein confirms what a Foobooz commenter posted a few weeks ago. Federal Donuts is coming to Sansom Street in University City. The new space will be next to Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House at 3428 Sansom Street. Steven Cook says “We are thrilled to announce that we will bring our tasty donuts, fried chicken and exceptional coffee to the University of Pennsylvania campus when we open our third Federal Donuts location at 3428 Sansom Street in early 2014.” Cook co-owns Federal Donuts along with Michael Solomonov, Tom Henneman, Bob Logue and Felicia D’Ambrosio.
Also confirmed in Klein’s piece is that another Federal Donuts will indeed open at 7th and Fairmount.
Federal Donuts opening in University City, North Philly [The Insider]