If there is such a thing as famous falafel, it's Mamoun's. Since 1971, the Greenwich Village restaurant has been smothering them with tahini, stuffing them into pita, and gaining national recognition for doing so. Now the deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas have made their way to Nassau County.
The tantalizing signs went up soon after PizzaRev closed its Jericho Turnpike location in August: “Mamoun’s Falafel is coming to Long Island.” But it’s taken months for the transformation to be complete.
Falafel can be had in a pita sandwich ($4.75) or on a plate ($7.95) with rice or salad. There are plenty of other vegetarian options (hummus, babaganoush, tabbouleh, etc.) that are available on their own or in combination, in sandwiches and plates. The star of the meat menu is shawarma (lamb cooked on a vertical rotisserie, $7.25 for a sandwich, $12.75 for a plate). There’s also chicken kebab, shish kebab and kofta kebab (ground seasoned lamb), plus soups and sides and Middle Eastern pastries.
The long, narrow shop has a rustic-industrial interior . Order at the counter and they’ll shout your number when your food is ready.
The Chater family that owns the original Mamoun's on MacDougal Street opened more branches in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In 2015, Mamoun’s partnered with Fransmart, the franchise development company behind Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Qdoba Mexican Grill, to expand across the country.
Imran and Pinaz Lakhani, a Woodbury couple, bought the rights to open Mamoun’s on Long Island. When Imran left Mumbai, India, in 1991 to attend NYU School of Law, he also operated a newsstand to support himself. It was right around the corner from the original Mamoun’s and he usually ate lunch and dinner there.
Over the next two decades, Imran made a career operating franchised eateries (Quiznos, Blimpie, Tasti D-Lite) and convenience stores in Manhattan. But as rents skyrocketed, he eased out of the eatery business. When he and his wife were casting about for new opportunities, they discovered that Mamoun’s was looking for a Long Island franchisee, and the reunion between customer and eatery turned into a business relationship.
Much of Mamoun’s proprietary food is prepared in a central commissary in New Jersey and shipped to locations every morning. But the company also requires that franchisees send a five-person team (manager, assistant manager, three cooks) to Hoboken for a six-week course in cooking the Mamoun’s way.
Imran said that he and his wife hope to open a second Long Island location in the next six to eight months.
The Syosset store has had limited hours for the last week. On Saturday, Mamoun’s opens at 11 a.m. The first 100 people in line will receive free Mamoun’s swag, and everyone is invited to enter a raffle for prizes that include a flat screen TV and Beats headphones.
Mamoun’s Falafel is at 408 Jericho Tpke., Syosset, 516-802-3641, mamouns.com.