Dos Equis beer may lay claim to the "Most Interesting Man in the World," but Falafel Time in Fort Lauderdale just might have dibs on the happiest.
“I love America! Everybody is so nice. It is my home, and I feel so happy here.”
Indeed, Yaov Mazig
is living the American dream.
Born and raised in Kiryat Gat, a small town in southern Israel, Mazig
moved to New York before settling in Boca Raton two years ago.
“This is happy food,” Mazig says. “I do it for my heart."
Experience working in the family furniture business did little to prepare Mazig
for a career in the restaurant industry. So when his mother called him from 6,600 miles away to tell him that she wanted him to open a restaurant in the United States, Mazig
did what any other budding restaurateur might do.
He flew home to mom.
made the long trip back to Israel to study under Kiryat Gat’s undisputed falafel queen, Louisa — otherwise known as “mother.” A mini-celebrity in her hometown, Louisa knows the secret to making falafel balls flavorful and airy with a crispy outside — a talent that purveyors of the garlicky, dried-out paperweights that pass as falafel at many places could stand to learn.
He returned to Florida to hone his craft, telephoning his mother each time a recipe didn’t turn out perfectly. Eventually, he got it just right.
“This is my first time in the restaurant business,” he says. “I get such good reviews. I am so happy!”
preps his produce each morning with fastidious attention to detail. He must be certain that his clean, fresh food meets the rigorous standards required to retain his Kosher certification.
“This is happy food,” Mazig
says. “I do it for my heart. I have my own way to fix it nicely so you taste everything in every bite — falafel, hummus, tahini, salads.”
has been vegan for six years, and Falafel Time is almost 100 percent vegan, save for the mayonnaise in two dishes that Mazig
plans to replace with vegan mayo soon.
“I think we can eat and have fun without meat and animals, and I’m so happy with that,” he says.
Bubbling over with enthusiasm seems to be the best recipe for Mazig
, who gets most of his customers from word-of-mouth referrals.
“I don’t advertise,” he says. “My food is the advertising.”
wife helps prepare the salads and soups between her shifts as a registered nurse. Even their four young children get into the action on Sundays, tailing mom and dad to the restaurant, hoping to someday learn the family’s secret recipes.
What is not a secret is that Falafel Time is thriving, due in part to Mazig’s
simple customer service philosophy.
“No good? Don’t pay,” he says, laughing with confidence. “So far, 100 percent of people have paid. This is the best!”
Falafel Time is located at 1306 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 239-228-0198, or like them on Facebook. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Closed Saturday.
Wendy Rhodes is a freelance writer and award-winning author. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @WendyRhodesFL.