Canton, OH: Chubby Chickpea Offers True Israeli Cuisine Right Here in Canton

By   |  Canton Patch

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Avi Shemtovo started in the food business quite early, and he’s brought out his experience at the Chubby Chickpea in Canton.

“I started unofficially at birth,” he said. “My dad owned restaurants from the time I was born up until I was done with college.”

Shemtovo said his dad first owned the store at its current location as a pizza joint. When he took over he said he wanted to have a more distinct cuisine.

“My dad’s from Israel, and we say Middle Eastern food but it’s really Israeli cuisine,” he said. “For my most part my dad’s a chef and it’s a chef-driven restaurant.”

Shemtovo said the shop has been open under the new cuisine and name for three years now. He said he knows people may not be familiar with the food, so he wanted to keep everything as simple as possible.

 “We wanted to open a place that was Americanized in concept but authentic in menu,” he said.  “In choosing the menu, we started with the basics, like the falafel, which is what we wanted to be all about. We built from there over time, adding options and figuring out what we could handle and what we couldn’t.

Shemtovo said they also have a food truck that goes all around Boston. He said most people know them for the truck, which is not his ideal business model at the moment.

“It’s something I want to change,” he said.

Shemtovo said they’re moving their location in September to help that. He said he wants to expand the restaurant and make it more comfortable for his customers.

“We don’t want to be good, we want to be great,” he said. “We’re moving for a better dining room. Right now a big issue is that we don’t have air conditioning. It’s just an old building and there’s nothing I can do to fix that. We’ll have more seating and a bigger kitchen and an outdoor patio.”

Shemtovo added they’ll be able to store more food during the day so menu items don’t get scarce.

“We run out of things sometimes that people really just want,” he said.

Shemtovo said the restaurant is also now going kosher, along with the food truck. He said he wants to have a third party supervise the kosher process so it means more than just a title.

“No one in the area will have a more pristine record as far as that,” he said. “You’ll know when you come in here everything’s up to snuff.”

Shemtovo said he loves working in Canton. He said the town is really pro business and made operating the Chickpea a dream.

“Which isn’t true about every town,” he said. “The people here have just been awesome. The police chief in Canton is a really good guy takes an interest in local businesses, he’s a great customer too. The building inspector is fair, he always explains why he wants things a certain way. The selectmen actually lobbied on my behalf to get outdoor seating [for the new location].”

Shemtovo said they donate to local community charities like the Music Counts program at the High School and the Canton Community Theater.

The Chubby Chickpea is located at 588 Washington St. and is open Daily, 11am – 9pm.

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