Restaurant News: Dizengoff Expands, Hymie’s Deli Aims to Reopen in February

The new and expanded Dizengoff on Sansom Street in Philadelphia
(Photo by Michael Persico)

Dizengoff, Michael Solomonov’s hummus and pita lunch counter on Sansom Street, reopened as a full restaurant on Jan. 29.

As you walk in the door, you still see the narrow, rectangular lunch space that once served the Center City workday crowd. But if you turn right, you will also see the new, open dining area with much more seating.

“Boxwood Architects, a longtime CookNSolo collaborator, transformed the now 95-seat space (four times the original capacity) into a sun-filled restaurant with retro Tel Aviv style,” read a news release from Solomonov’s restaurant group, CookNSolo. “Brightly colored tiles and wallpaper made from Israeli street posters evoke the Tel Aviv boulevard for which the restaurant is named.”

Of course, any experienced Center City diner will recognize that Dizengoff’s expansion comes at the closure of Abe Fisher, the CookNSolo restaurant that used to occupy this space. The moves were part of a consolidation by CookNSolo that also included the closure of Merkaz in 2023. Dizengoff will soon offer sandwiches that used to be served at Merkaz such as chicken schnitzel and lamb “shawarma.”

The entrée section of the Dizengoff menu is new. It includes “falafel-fried dorade with amba and tehina, chickpea plus leek aruk, an Iraqi-style vegetable cake with tehina-amba dressing and blistered tomato and the crispiest kataifi chicken schnitzel with tehina, schug and Yemenite pickles,” according to the news release.

Dizengoff opened in 2014 and has been closed for this expansion since August, according to the release. It is inspired by Dizengoff, “one of Tel Aviv’s most iconic streets.” Hummus stands are common in Tel Aviv.

Hymie’s Deli

On Jan. 10, Hymie’s Deli owner Louis Barson got a call from one of his managers.

“The basement’s flooding,” the manager said, according to Barson.

“Check the sump pumps,” Barson responded.

“No, it’s pouring in everywhere,” the manager answered. “It’s like a dam broke.”

The water main break outside of Hymie’s that caused the flood
(Courtesy of Hymie’s Deli)

Hymie’s, a Merion Station mainstay for more than 60 years, has been closed ever since. Yet Barson believes it may open again on or before Feb. 19.

Local patrons will surely be happy about that. A recent Facebook post from the Hymie’s account estimating a Feb. 26 reopening got more than 300 likes and loves.

“I don’t have any concern about those people not coming back,” Barson said. “We’ve been a longstanding landmark in the area that does right by our customers, and they do right by us.”

Approximately five feet of water poured into the basement, according to Barson. There was a water main break “right in front of the store,” Barson said. It buckled the sidewalk and dumped water into everyone’s basement on the 300 block of Montgomery Avenue.

“It is what it is. Nobody was electrocuted. Thank God. Nobody was hurt. Thank God,” he said.

The flood and closure gave Barson a chance to renovate the basement with a new epoxy floor and a new electrical system. He also added a new quarry tile floor in the deli sandwich area.

“You can’t do it normally. You never have two or three days of downtime,” the owner said. “We’re using it to the best opportunity we can.”

Hymie’s Deli was closed for six-and-a-half weeks in 2003. But that was for a planned renovation, according to Barson. This is the longest unplanned closure in Hymie’s history.

But Barson was able to keep paying his employees. Now, he’s hoping for some relief from the insurance company, too.

Regardless of what happens, Hymie’s will reopen. Barson calls his cellphone number “the worst kept secret in Lower Merion.” He’s been getting “dozens upon dozens upon dozens” of texts from family members, friends and customers.

“That part’s great. That’s what we’ve built,” Barson said. “Hymie’s has been around longer than I have. I’ve just been carrying that torch and trying to make it brighter.”

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