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You’d think running one very popular restaurant would be enough. But wife-husband team Susanna and Nicolas Kurban are expanding their eats empire at a fast clip.
Now, just seven months later, they opened Amar Bakery and Market in Boynton Beach, a fast-casual showcase for Susanna’s Mediterranean-meets-Middle-East fare, from sweet offerings like za’atar croissants, baklava cheesecake and fig/pistachio cake to savory menu items such as falafel wraps, hummus, baba ghanouj and stuffed grape leaves.
Later this year the Kurbans plan on opening yet another bakery, this one slated to go a couple of doors down from their restaurant in Delray Beach.
That will makes three eateries debuting in about 10 months.
“We don’t sleep much,” Nicolas admits. “We’ll probably do a few more and another location for the restaurant as well. We are starting to build the team so we can grow. It’s been a very exciting, but very hectic year and a half.”
But as a chef, he is used to this. Aside from working alongside the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller and Bobby Flay — helping them expand their brands — he also worked with the Four Seasons and the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, opening properties around the world.
In fact, it was the gig at Kimpton that brought the Kurbans to South Florida four years ago. The company only asked that he make a home base somewhere on the East Coast. “We lived in Los Angeles and Singapore, so we were used to good weather and we like the sun,” recalls Nicolas, who is from Lebanon.
Susanna, who is from Venezuela, was in the information technology business.
“My dad was a big foodie,” she says. “I always had a passion for baking and cooking since I was a child. I grew up in a family that was always cooking, and having dinner together was the main thing, big meals with five and six dishes, every day.”
Susanna successfully took over the desserts Amar Mediterranean Bistro. “The bakery is a big dream come true,” she says.
“[Susanna] cooks very, very well and she bakes amazing,” says Nicolas. “That’s her hobby. She started making the desserts for the restaurant.”
She says their travels and living abroad greatly broadened her knowledge of flavor profiles and global cuisines. Even the brand name is a shoutout to their international backgrounds. “The name Amar has two meanings for us,” Susanna explains. “Amar means ‘the moon’ in Arabic and also means ‘to love’ in Spanish. We wanted a name with a meaning in both languages, then later we found out from our customers that the word also has beautiful meanings in other languages.”
Nicolas says, “The restaurant is successful beyond my expectations.”
As for the bakery, before the Kurbans bought it, the property in a Boynton Beach strip mall was formerly called Del Sol Bakery.
“We were here for two months [under the Del Sol banner],” Susanna says. “So we got a sense of what the customer wanted. We didn’t want to take over and close. We wanted to keep those customers and give them different options.”
Some of the staff stayed on and are now mixing their customer favorites with Susanna’s new ideas.
“Del Sol was offering more croissants and breads, more breakfast items,” Nicolas says. “And we kept those…but what we really want to add are the specialty items that we are known for.”
“Two of the bakers, they’ve been working there years. So we’re working with them, using some of the recipes they had and Susanna is working with adding the [Lebanese] and Middle Eastern touches to the recipes. Like they did a croissant, now we use za’atar croissants, which is delicious.”
That also means hummus, baba ghanouj, taboulehs, sandwiches (the brie and veggies is a fan favorite) and salads. Susanna says other new menu items that are already popular include their Mediterranean breakfast croissant with egg, zucchini, tomatoes and feta cheese as well as a fruit and pistachio cake.
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“And I’m vegan and my four daughters are vegan, so we have a lot of vegan things,” she says. “Most of our cookies are vegan and we have some vegan cakes as well.”
The menu is still being developed, but generally speaking, the prices are:
- Croissants range in price $3 to $4.50
- Cookies are either $2 or $2.50
- Pastries cost $4 to $6
- Sandwiches and wraps are $7 to $9.50.
- Quiches are $4 a slice, while appetizers such as hummus and tabouleh are $6 to $9.
- Cakes in the display case are $4 a slice to $7 for mini cakes. Custom cakes go from around $28 to about $75.
Amar Bakery and Market “is mostly grab and go at this point,” according to Nicolas. However, there are four tables, which can seat 10-12 people, outside under a covered patio.
The bakery is at 16,00 N. Federal Highway #15, Boynton Beach.
The hours are 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays.