by Jeanie Riess
The Fat Falafel food truck is putting itself in park and opening a not yet named brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Bayou St. John neighborhood. Co-owner and co-founder Theresa Galli says she and partner Gavin Cady hope to open up by late summer. They’ll occupy the retail space on Ponce de Leon Street that was previously home to the now closed Mid-City branch of Maple Street Book Shop.
The menu will still have the falafel sandwiches and platters for which the truck, which started rolling in December 2012, has come to be known, though Galli says the restaurant will branch out into other types of cuisine. “We’re not planning on having a Mediterranean restaurant,” she says. Falafel will be available at lunch and maybe for dinner, but the restaurant will specialize in simple, hearty and seasonal dishes untied to a specific genre. Lunch will be mostly fresh salads and sandwiches. “It’ll have a small dinner menu that has the same seasonal focus to it,” says Galli. “For that, we want to do a couple of items that are larger format so that two or four people can share them.” The restaurant will also serve brunch on the weekends.
Galli says her goal has always been to open a restaurant. She and Cady picked the Ponce de Leon address because they often park the Fat Falafel truck outside of Swirl Wine Bar and Market and they like the neighborhood.
Though the new restaurant’s concept is still evolving, Galli is optimistic that fans of the truck will come eat at the permanent shop. “We're about to submit plans to the city, and then we need to construct an entire kitchen," she says. "We always wanted to have a restaurant, that was our original goal. And the food truck was just a less expensive and less risky way to test out whether or not we could be successful in the restaurant business."