New Orleans is a city that beckons creative versatility and innovation, and the creators of Pizza Speakeasy, Benjamin Harlow and Walker Reisman, certainly play to this feature. The entrepreneurial duo will soon launch their newest eatery Kebab, featuring “European drunk food,” as the duo call it. The menu will be inspired by the cuisine of Berlin, Rotterdam and Thessalonik -- think doner kebab sandwiches, made with fresh baked Turkish bread; a bevy of house-made sauces; Belgian, veggie, or beet fries (an idea the pair borrowed from The Liberty bar in Austin, Texas); and fresh made sodas on tap and in the bottle.
Harlow, originally from Oregon, and Reisman, originally from Illinois, met in 2007 while apartment hunting in Mid-City. The pair come from a diverse set of geographic and vocational backgrounds, which ultimately have facilitated the success of their joint culinary ventures. On one hand, Harlow has 15 years of restaurant experience both in and out of Nola, including local stints at Susan Spicer's Mondo, Lola’s and. Alternatively, Reisman moved to New Orleans at eighteen-years-old to work as an engineering intern for the circus ship, the Caravan Stage Company, where he was eventually promoted to chief engineer of the ship. Although neither Harlow and Reisman had experience in masonry work -- necessary to craft a pizza oven -- the two combined knowledge and skills from their diverse backgrounds of engineering, biology, and restaurant to execute their initial joint culinary project: construction of the Pizza Speakeasy oven, which has been making regular, under-the-radar pop-up appearances since.
After years of filling an untapped pizza pop-up niche in New Orleans, Reisman and Harlow were ready to take on a new project; innovation, they agree is a priority in their partnership. Doner kebabs, they decided, were what the New Orleans culinary scene lacked. And thus, the concept of Kebab was born.
Finding a permanent home for Kebab, Reisman and Harlow say, has been the most challenging task thus far. The restaurant will be located in St Claude, in the space Henry’s Bakery and Deli (the birthplace of Buttermilk Drop Bakery) formerly occupied, where Walker used to pick up donuts whenever he was running late to work at Bicycle Micahel’s. The duo is currently in the process of revamping the space to accommodate an art gallery/community center, where about one-third of their usable floor space will be dedicated to rotating art and events. With a limited building budget, Harlow and Reisman had to get creative with their remodeling strategy. For instance, in the kitchen they are using second-hand kitchen materials, including inexpensive, yet beautiful maple wood and contrasting, bold teal wall tiles.
Acknowledging the lengthy process of readying the Kebab space up, ready, and running, Reisman and Harlow advise restaurant entrepreneurs to prioritize location preparations on their agendas. Developing an idea of what you’re looking for in a space before you begin searching will ultimately save you time, they say, as will arranging building pre-inspections prior to signing a lease.
Harlow and Reisman say local and conscious ingredient sourcing will be a priority, as will maintaining a widely accessible, budget-friendly menu, with sandwiches that will run just under $7. There will also be a daily happy hour from 3 - 6 PM, featuring $5 Mezes (Mediterraneasn small plates).
In addition to the accessibility of restaurant’s pricepoint, Kebab will also offer dining options for eaters of all sorts. For all the homebodies, out their, Kebab will offer neighborhood delivery. And for the culinarily restless souls, in addition to the art and delicious daily food, Kebab will host a more formal pop-up by Benjamin and Walker called Margaret’s, a project that’s still fairly hush-hush. For those with dietary restrictions: a gluten free platter will be available, as will a vegan-friendly protein source, falafel, plus a separate veg-friendly fryer with vegetable oil (the other fryer will contain lard, which truly has us chiming at the bits to get our hands on the Belgian fries that will crisp up inside). Pleasing to the ears of diners who enjoy an icy cocktail or satisfying glass of wine with their meals, BYOB at Kebab will be encouraged, with cocktail set-ups available, which will be offered at half-price during happy hour.
When they aren’t popping-up with their pizza oven, developing the menu at Kebab, and remedying their new restaurant digs, the two enjoy dining at BBQ Mecca The Joint, burger and pizza eatery Sugar Park, and vegetarian newcomer The Sneaky Pickle.
Although an official launch date has not been set, Harlow and Reisman hope to open Kebab in May. You can stay current with the restaurant’s progress and updates by visiting their official website and following them on Facebook.
Stay tuned for food sneak peek, with a recipe from Kebab on Fruday.
2315 St. Claude Ave.
Friday - Monday: 3 PM - 12 AM, or later. Delivery will start at 5 PM