After quite a few rumors, it’s official: Israeli chef Eyal Shani will open a branch of his flagship restaurant HaSalon in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in March. Shani will then move his center of operations, at least for the time being, to New York.
Shani is finishing an intensive year in which he not only opened branches of his pita restaurants, the Miznon, in Melbourne, Paris and Manhattan, but also opened a kosher restaurant, Malka, in Asia House in Tel Aviv.
HaSalon, or "the living room" in English, opened in 2008 for two nights a week as a one-man show between Tel Aviv and Givatayim. It was recently named Israel’s second best restaurant by the Gault-Millau restaurant guide. Those who were too hasty to eulogize it had to admit that it was still going strong.
Next year’s opening of HaSalon, whose rental contract was recently signed, will take place exactly a year after Shani and his staff opened the Miznon in Chelsea Market. From the moment it opened, the New York Miznon was considered a hit, with an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 customers per week. New York media also embraced the Miznon warmly, even saying that the opening of the Miznon led to the closing of top U.S. chef Michael Solomonov's hummus restaurant.
People close to Shani say that he is bringing a team from Israel so that HaSalon will have experienced chefs. They will be joined by cooks and chefs who have worked with Shani in the past and now live in New York. Will the Hell’s Kitchen branch only be open two nights a week as well? According to Shani’s associates, it will start by operating four nights a week. But this can be reconsidered down the road.
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The opening and spread of Shani’s restaurants in the United States is led by Israeli-American entrepreneur Moshe Ziv. He doesn’t rest for a minute. Miznon will open another branch on Columbus Avenue on Manhattan's Upper West Side alongside the HaSalon opening. This week, Ziv’s concert and events space Chelsea Market Music Hall is set to begin its dry run and will serve items from the Miznon menu. It will be supervised by the Chelsea Market Miznon’s Chef Meir Ringart. The long-term plan of the investment group behind Shani, headed by Shahar Segal, is to open more branches of Miznon in New York and throughout the United States, including in Los Angeles.