Allan's Falafel celebrates ten years in Chester

| 17 Jul 2019 | 02:30

By Ginny Privitar
Allan’s Falafel on Main Street in Chester celebrates their tenth year in business this August. The business is thriving — so much so, they’re opening a second restaurant, Mediterranean Grill, in the Galleria Mall sometime this fall.
Owners Allan and Tatyana Abbad have reason to be proud. Allan’s Falafel serves excellent Israeli and Mediterranean food, sourced locally and prepared fresh every day. Allan says he learned from his mother. Some of his dishes are her recipes, and others are his own creations — all prepared with exquisite care. He also learned from working in restaurants as a young man.
Allan's cuisine is so popular, customers come from Ulster, Dutchess, and Rockland counties, from New Jersey, and as far away as Pennsylvania. “
People even come from the city,” Allan said. “We have 4.5 stars on Yelp and 4.8 stars on Google.”
They earn those ratings.
But it’s not just the food that brings their customers. It’s the warm, family atmosphere.
“To be honest with you, we turned this business into our living room, our home, and everybody that comes here becomes more of an extended family to us,” Allan said. "We know everybody, and we have a really great relationship with everybody.”
Allan is originally from Israel and Tatyana from Russia. They met when both were living in Manhattan, introduced by friends. It was a match made in heaven. They've been married for 20 years and have two daughters, Dalia and Phoebe, who help out in summer.
“Ever since we got married, all he talked about was opening his own restaurant,” Tatyana said. “He always loved to cook and feed people. It makes him very happy.”
Allan had a luxury limousine service that was hit hard by the recession in 2008. That’s when he decided to follow his dream and open his own restaurant.
Long hours, little help
In the beginning, though, they struggled. For a long while Allan worked day and night, doing everything there was to do, including prep work, because he couldn’t afford to hire anyone.
“When we started the business, people didn’t know anything about Israeli food or Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food,” Allan said.
The business grew by word of mouth. Now, he has a staff of 17 full- and part-timers, and more if needed for catered events.
Tatyana gives her husband all the credit.
“Allan is the chef and the wheels behind this whole operation,” she said. “I help run things in the restaurant, but he’s the chef, he creates the recipes, he oversees everything.”
They make everything from scratch, and some of the recipes involve a lot of preparation. The falafel is ground and the meat is cut in-house. All the salads are made fresh. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m., but employees starting chopping at 8:30.
Among the most popular dishes is Allan’s famous falafel — finely ground chickpeas seasoned with parsley, cilantro, and spices, formed into balls and deep-fried to perfection.
There's also the shawarma, a twist on the gyro. First they thinly slice fresh lamb and beef, and then brine it. Allan seasons the meat with his own spice mix, and lets it absorb in the refrigerator for another day. Then it’s stacked — a layer of lamb, a layer of beef — until there's a big, thick stack that's slowly grilled on a vertical spit that cooks the outer layer. Finally, the meat is shaved, repeatedly, and served on pita or plates of rice, salad, or hummus.
“It’s literally three days of work from the time he gets the meat to the time on the spit.” Tatyana said. “And the same with the chickpeas — falafel and the hummus we make here. We soak the chickpeas, the next day we cook them and blend them, let them get cold, and then the third day I make the hummus with tahini and lemon juice.”
The menu offers lots of choices: chicken, beef and Kufta (minced ground beef and lamb, seasoned with spices, onion and parsley) kebabs; chicken cutlets, mixed grill, and a wide selection of salads. There’s a children’s menu and sahlab (a warm pudding) and baklava, a delectable dessert made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup.
“I have a love affair with food," Allan said. "I mean I have a lot of passion for food so I enjoy making food and watching people smiling and happy eating the food and enjoying it.” It shows.

Essential information
What: Allan’s Falafel
Where: 115 Main St., Chester
When: Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Call: 469-1714