Middle Eastern restaurant eyes former office space

February 6, 2009
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A well-known restauranteur is hoping to open a Middle Eastern eatery at the former site of Kokoras Insur-ance at 654 Centre St. this spring. Dedham resident Sami Saba plans to open Sami’s Falafel if and when he receives a common victualler’s license with take-out he has applied for.

“I’ve been in love with this neighborhood for 25 years,” Saba, who grew up in Roslindale, told members of the Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association board of directors last month.

Saba now owns popular Sami’s Falafel establishments in the Longwood Galleria in the Longwood Medical Area and at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge. He said he has had many customers from JP there and at other establishments he has owned in the area.

Saba said his wife, son and daughter will also work in the restaurant that will serve all homemade food with seating for 22 to 30 people.

Although building owner Mike Pavone, also the owner of Classic Cleaners, said last June he did not want a food establishment in the space, he explained his change of mind simply last week: “I’ve known Sami for over 18 years. His reputation is impeccable,” he said.

Saba has agreed to use good ventilation and no frialator, Pavone added, so fumes don’t go into his dry cleaner.

Domino’s also showed interest in the 1,200-square-foot space [See related article.] formerly occupied by (in chronological order provided by Pavone): a fish market, a bookstore café, a real estate office, then a sporting goods store prior to the insurance company.

Last spring, Brad Brown of Blue Frog Bakery on Green Street and also a tenant of Pavone’s, considered renting 654 Centre St. and expanding his business there, but he said he changed his mind last June.

Sandra Storey