The owners of the Falafel Mafia food truck plan to open a new Middle Eastern restaurant in Portland. Photo courtesy of Dylan Gardner

The owners of the Falafel Mafia food truck plan to open Portland’s first hummusiya – a restaurant that focuses on hummus and mezze plates – in November.

The restaurant will be located in the former Scattoloni Bakery at One Monument Way in downtown Portland and will be called Nura, which is Persian for “light,” said Dylan Gardner, who is co-owner with his brother Cameron.

“We are serving vegetarian food, and we see it as almost a future investment,” Gardner said. “We see vegetarian food as gaining in popularity, and we like (the name) Nura because vegetarian food is considerably lighter. And hummus is super fluffy and light in color.”

The menu will include plenty of the falafel that’s so popular on the food truck, he said, but “we’re hoping to have the hummus be as big as the falafel, if not bigger.”

Nura will serve breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch. The restaurant will probably stay open until 7 p.m., when the building closes for the day, but there will be no separate dinner menu, Gardner said. The space will seat about 30 customers, including seats at a new bar the Gardners are adding in addition to regular table seating. Other renovations include redoing the floors, painting the walls and putting in a new service counter. “It’s all very cosmetic,” Gardner said.

The menu will feature hummus bowls with a variety of toppings, depending on what’s in season. In autumn, for example, the bowls – which will come with fresh lavash bread – might include Brussels sprouts or different types of squash. The brothers also are hoping to expand into grab-and-go pastries, and plates of popular Middle Eastern dishes such as shakshuka. Breakfast items will include a Turkish breakfast with eggs, yogurt served with preserves, pickled foods, fresh vegetables and breads, as well as riffs on pancakes and French toast. “We’re trying to take classic dishes that people are familiar with and put Middle-Eastern twists on them,” Gardner said.

He added that they’ll also serve Turkish coffee and chai made from their own recipe that “we think Portland is just waiting for.”

The food for the Falafel Mafia food truck is prepared at Fork Food Lab on Parris Street, but Gardner said they will now be “graduating” from there and moving all production to the new location. He expects the space to be able to handle food production for the truck, the restaurant and a future project they have in mind but would not provide details about.

The Gardners hope to open Nura before the end of November, or Dec. 1 at the very latest. Gardner hopes they’ll be offering brunch by Nov. 23. “That will be pushing it,” he said, “but everything is looking like it will work.”


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