The calls to Nadav Abergel’s phone were constant since he made the announcement. Originally posting “coming soon” on social media, as of Nov. 3 it’s official: Star of David Kosher Grill has opened a second location in Center City. Unlike the original, Star of David Kosher Sandwich & Hummus Bar will focus on the lunch crowd, serving schnitzel, shawarma and falafel on pita bread, wraps and baguettes.
“I want to keep it good quality, good quality of meat, good quality of bread, and if somebody needs to eat kosher here, they have a spot,” said Abergel.
The venue at 2101 Chestnut St. is the former home of Hey Hummus, which Victor Fellus opened in 2017. Fellus, originally from Israel, owns Mix Bar and Grille on the same block but he wanted to downsize. So he approached Abergel about buying Hey Hummus.
“It was doing good,” Fellus said. “I made money but because of my restaurant next door it was too much for me.”
While Hey Hummus was certified under the International Kosher Council, the new eatery is certified under the supervision of Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia, or Keystone-K. It’s the supervision used by Star of David in Narberth, which was founded in 2015 by Abergel and his brother Sharon, who owns Espresso Cafe & Sushi Bar in Northeast Philadelphia.
Abergel moved to the U.S. from Israel about eight years ago after finishing a three-year stint in the IDF. His original plan was to just visit his brother, who had been a Philadelphia resident since 1995.
“And since then, I’m stuck,” Abergel said.
Abergel worked as a chef and manager at Burger.org at 942 Montgomery Ave. in Narberth. When Burger.org closed, the brothers acquired the restaurant and converted it to Star of David.
Rabbi Eliezer Hirsch of Mekor Habracha/Center City Synagogue keeps track of all the kosher restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia area. In the past year, he said Samosa Vegetarian Indian Restaurant, 20th Street Pizza and Luhv Vegan Deli have become kosher certified by IKC. Over the summer, kosher restaurants Honest Tom’s Plant Based Taco Shop in University City and Swiss Haus Bakery in Rittenhouse have closed, although the latter has since reopened without certification as Swiss Haus Cafe & Pastry Bar.
Hirsch said he’s happy to hear of a new kosher eatery in the city. He’s glad the restaurant will be closed on Fridays, Saturdays and for Jewish holidays due to it serving kosher meat and requiring higher standards.
“Star of David is doing the right thing,” Hirsch said. “It’s challenging, but hopefully the other days of the week the Jewish community can support them and make up for it.”
Abergel acknowledged the difficulties of running a kosher establishment. Additional costs come from more expensive meat, kosher supervision and utilities on the added days it’s closed.
“It’s hard for a kosher businesses to be anywhere,” Abergel said. “But if you’re doing it for a good reason and God willing, it’s going to be OK.”
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