Back in 1994, Udi Baron started a ready-to-eat sandwich business with his wife, Fern. Since then, and with the help of additional family members, that shop has spawned a bakery that supplies home pantries and restaurants, a catering company, a granola-maker, a national gluten-free line, a handful of cafes and a couple of larger, full-service restaurants.
And now the Barons are about to add to their empire again, with plans to open Saba Middle Eastern Eats on the Hill in Boulder. The name means "grandpa" in Hebrew.
"We're from Israel," says Etai Baron, Udi's son and one of the owners. "I've been here since I was seven, but we've spent our lives going back and forth, and we have a certain infatuation with Israeli food."
Specifically, Israeli street food, he adds. And that's what Udi's daughter, Robin, who's heading up menu creation for the new spot, will try to capture. She's focusing on falafel, which the Barons consider Israel's national food. In homage to falafel shops in the Middle East, where diners can customize their sandwiches on the spot, Saba will offer counter service. And in addition to having set sandwich combos, the restaurant will offer hummus in the traditional Israeli way: made to order, mixed with meat and served warm. Diners will be able to further customize their orders at the condiment bar.
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The Barons are putting a lot of thought into every ingredient that they'll use, starting with the base. "The first thing we need is a really good pita," says Etai. "We bought a special pita oven for the Louisville bakery, and we've been baking pitas obsessively for Saba." Those pitas will be Israeli in style: fat and fluffy, with ample pocket space for meat and fillings. The family plans to sell them at the Boulder Farmers' Market, and perhaps other spots as well.
The Barons are in the process of applying for a liquor license for the address: 1155 13th Street, between the Fox Theatre and that rowdy student hangout the Sink. They plan to open Saba's doors shortly after University of Colorado students return from spring break, in late March or early April.