The founders of The Haifa Room — a beloved Middle Eastern restaurant/bar located in Toronto — are set to open their new elevated West Coast concept, Bar Haifa, in Vancouver this month.
The port city of Haifa, Israel, has been home to Arabs and Jews living and working alongside each other for centuries. In this spirit of co-existence, close friends and seasoned restaurateurs from both Palestinian-Muslim and Israeli-Jewish backgrounds Waseem Dabdoub, Fadi Hakim, Yossi Misrahi Eastwood, Daniel Suss, and Mark Kupfert came together to open their Toronto take-away window in June 2021 during the pandemic and felt the name captured the essence of their endeavour.
Soon The Haifa Room grew beyond mouth-watering take-out falafel and sabich pita sandwiches. Later that year, with the addition of Chef Jason Hemi (formerly of Fat Pasha and Rose and Sons), it became a hyper-casual 28-seat restaurant, with accolades and a loyal following for its Fennel and Apricot Labneh, Kofta, Boneless Lamb Shoulder, and Signature Fresh-made Hummus.
“We had many conversations about the food, about whose parents’ falafel or hummus is best,” said co-founder Hakim, whose father was born in Haifa. Kupfert agreed: “We must have tried dozens of family recipes, from Yossi’s Safta’s Zhug to Waseem’s father’s Knafeh.”
Opening on November 24, the Vancouver eatery will feature an expanded menu that showcases the terroir of its new location, with lots of fresh seafood and local ingredients, along with a dedicated take-out only street-food menu. Bar Haifa will have a bigger focus on service than in the Toronto location, and an extensive wine and cocktail list, led by a team of local all-stars. Cassandra Mosher, known from past roles at Bao Bei, Como and Bacaro, will serve as General Manager, and Alex Thornley, of Published, Bar Susu and Como, is joining the team as Wine Director.
Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver on the ground floor of the Deloitte Summit building on Georgia at Homer. Bar Haifa contains 55 indoor seats, including a cocktail bar, chef’s table, banquette seating and an open kitchen, along with a spacious outdoor patio that will double its seating during the summer.
Bar Haifa was originally scheduled to open in July of this year, but because of construction delays it was pushed to mid-November, placing the opening in the midst of the tragic conflict in Gaza and Israel.
“At first, words failed us. We’re devastated. We all have family members living in Palestine and Israel,” said Hakim. “As we grapple with the situation, we grieve for all the civilians, our helplessness. For now, our focus is connecting people through shared experience and finding a commonality between people through food.”