by Estee Cohen
Ta-eem Grill had a problem other restaurants only dream of. It was too popular. The demand for their shawarma, falafel, and hummus was so intense that lines were often over an hour long. Owner Sylvie Kraizberger recollects, “It was devastating to see people wait in line for so long, some people would drive by and see the huge line and make a U-turn to find somewhere else to eat”. Many customers didn’t mind the wait, and Ta-eem developed a cult-like following with loyal customers returning almost daily. With shops on either side of Ta-eem that had no signs of moving out, Sylvie and her husband Yoel weren’t sure how to proceed. They never considered moving to a new location, but new that something had to give. They continued to cook in a tiny kitchen and trusted that Hashem would find a solution. “G-d has His mysterious ways. Right when we said to each other that we must find a way to provide for all our customers, the hair salon next door to us closed and we were able to take the space and expand Ta-eem Grill.”
Ta-eem Grill has been opened for about three years now and, with their recent expansion, has tripled in size. The location is still at 7422 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and the lines are still out the door, but the lines move quickly because of the large kitchen staff and because there is much more seating, nearly one hundred people can sit comfortably munching their pitas and laffas without an elbow in the eye.
As soon as you enter the newly remodeled location, you can feel the pride of ownership and Ahavas Yisroel of the Kraizbergers. The décor is hip, industrial warehouse meets Breslov, with recycled wood tables, rustic lighting, and family style benches and chairs. One wall features the famous Breslov slogan “Na-Nah-Nachman” written artfully in huge letters, about four feet in height. The opposite side symbolizes the Kosel (Western wall) with brick-shaped burlap hanging along the entire length of the wall. It’s arty, it’s Melrose, yet somehow it feels spiritual, like a secret shul in Tzfas that moonlights as a restaurant. The Kraizberger’s are deep people, but they are practical, pragmatic and kind. Sylvie circles around the very busy eatery asking guests if they are enjoying their meals and if there’s anything she can do the make the experience better. Waiters are friendly, polite, and go out of their way to please. You can feel comfortable customizing your order, asking the Israelis behind the counter to kindly stuff your pita with fries and spicy matbucha. These people actually like their customers and the customers like them back, returning their love with loyalty to Ta-eem Grill.
The Kraizberger family has deep Emunah that Hashem always leads them towards solutions that will be best for them. Over twenty years ago the Kraizberger family owned a similar restaurant in Israel. They moved to America and found themselves in the car business. They ran a successful car dealership for many years, but when the economy turned they needed to close down the car business and decided to return to their roots and try their hands in the food service business once again. They explain, “We know two things: cars and food. Cars were finished, so now we went back to food.” Ta-eem grill was immediately popular with both the Jewish crowd and Melrose locals and quickly drew fire hazard sized crowds. They feel that Hashem answered their prayers.
After the remodel, Ta-eem also switched to a more well-known Hashgacha, RCC and hired two Mashgiach Temidi to man the ship. My foodie carpool, Yossi Kagan, first introduced me to Ta-eem Grill, citing it as THE place to eat in the La Brea area. We brought my parents and kids there this week and everyone was happy with their feast. I really appreciated the six different dishes of salads, including corn salad, spicy carrot, pickles, and cabbage salad, that come immediately to the table and keep the kids busy while the orders are filled. Their fries are special, not the bulk frozen type, but cut and fried in house from real potatoes. Ta-eem’s Shawarma was a big hit with my parents who are Shawarma fanatics. They liked how juicy and plentiful the meat is. Ta-eem packs their pitas with shawarma meat until they burst, spilling meat and salads onto the plate. You can choose any of the many salads from the salad bar to stuff into your pita. You also have the option of wrapping your Shawarama or Falafel in a laffa, baguette, or plated with hummus and salads. I also want to recommend the Pargiot plate. Pargiot are grilled, dark chicken pieces which are arranged with Israeli salad, green cabbage salad and hummus. The Sabich and Shakshuka are also very popular.
Prices are very fair with falafel in a pita for only $6.50 and the most expensive thing on the menu, the Beef Steak Kabbob, is still under $16. Expect crowds and to meet people you know. You might even have a reunion or two. Children are more than welcome and can feast on fries, pickles, and Shnitzel and ketchup. Delivery and catering is available. Call 323-944-0013 and visit www.ta-eemgrillinc.com