Still embroiled in a legal battle over rights to his name, Alon Shaya’s newly created Pomegranate Hospitality has revealed plans for two new modern Israeli restaurants coming this spring.
Coming to New Orleans is the new Saba, meaning “grandfather” in Hebrew, to be followed by Safta, or “grandmother” in Hebrew, scheduled for The Source Hotel in Denver’s River North Arts District.
In a statement, Shaya said Saba will reflect his heritage and serve as a “journey through food and beverage which pays homage to the culinary landscape of Israel,” including influences from the Middle East, Europe and North Africa.
Details were limited, but wood-fired pita, baked in-house, will be on the menu and served family-style, as will local seafood, meat and produce.
“All of us at Pomegranate Hospitality are beyond excited to get the doors open at Saba in New Orleans,” said Shaya in a statement. “This restaurant will serve as our community center, where we can engage with our beloved team members, our hungry guests, and continue to support the causes that make our community stronger.”
The menu at Safta is given a similar description, with the flavors of Morocco, Lebanon, Syria, Bulgaria and Turkey.
Safta will also feature locally grown produce, as well as craft cocktails, beer, cider and wine, the company said.
Shaya said the group looked at Denver in part because it’s a place where he and his wife would like to spend more time.
“My wife Emily and I love traveling to Colorado, enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful mountains,” he said. “We’ve admired the way Zeppelin Development has created a community focus with their array of mixed-use projects in Denver, and have decided to join forces by opening a restaurant inside one of their most exciting new projects: The Source Hotel.”
Shaya is working with Zach Engel, culinary director, and Cara Peterson, chef de cuisine. Both left Besh Restaurant Group, as Shaya did, to join him at Pomegranate Hospitality.
At the new group, Shaya said he is working to foster a new kind of kitchen culture for the new concepts, one in which “everyone feels comfortable and safe,” and that furthers love, mutual respect and professional and personal fulfillment, as the company’s website proclaims.
The group has already hired a director of people and culture, Suzi Darre, and team members will receive cultural training and online continuing education, Shaya told Food & Wine.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions over the last five months for all of us,” he told the magazine. “It’s been a blessing. It’s given us all time to reflect and articulate what we want to do.”
The court battle over the restaurant Shaya’s name, however, is ongoing. Alon Shaya was fired last year from Besh Restaurant Group, where he was executive chef of the restaurant Shaya, Domenica and Pizza Domenica.
Besh Restaurant Group’s owner John Besh stepped down as CEO after the New Orleans Times-Picayune published a report on allegations of sexual harassment throughout that company.
Alon Shaya later said he was fired for speaking to the press about the allegations, but Besh and others at the company in court filings blamed the dispute over ownership rights to the restaurant Shaya.
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