The new Chelsea Market outpost of fast-casual pita chain Miznon is already slammed. Ever since opening last Tuesday, hordes of people have been filling up the 120-seat space — with some people waiting more than an hour to get their hands on Israel-based celebrity chef Eyal Shani’s unconventional pita sandwiches.
Eater critic Robert Sietsema visited around 1 p.m. on Friday and again at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday only to find that the lines and waits were too long to stick around to actually try the sandwiches. Staff, people in the line, and people waiting all said to expect more than an hour between getting in line and receiving food at the restaurant. Incidentally, Shani originally opened the restaurant as a fine dining chef’s take on (faster, more accessible) street food.
Sietsema showed up before the 11 a.m. opening time on Monday, but the restaurant didn’t open until 11:15, at which point ten people were already waiting to order. By noon, about two-thirds of the dining room was filled with people trying pitas stuffed with avocado and egg, ratatouille, and corned beef.
Although it’s the seventh location for the restaurant, Shani insists that it’s not a chain. Half the menu is local to New York, specifically intended to evoke “the energy” of the city in a pita, Shani has told Eater:
I need the young people to come and eat my food. I need the energy. I need the energy of the street. And New York has the best energy. The streets of New York have the best energy in the world. Why? Not just because of the local energy, but because all the eyes of all the globes are looking on New York, and consider it as a big light of the world — a city that so many people are dreaming of becoming so beautiful. If one million men will dream on you, you will be the most beautiful woman in the world. That’s what happened in New York. She became so beautiful because of the dreams on her. I need the energy of the dreamers. Therefore, I came here.
Indeed, “the energy” of New Yorkers is certainly flocking to Miznon, at least for now.
The restaurant’s 435 West 15th St. location, between 9th and 10th avenues, is currently only open during the day. The site previously announced a dinnertime opening of Friday, but as of Monday, it’s keeping a 5 p.m. closing time. The website now declares that extended hours will start after Wednesday; a Miznon representative did not immediately return a request for comment about whether that’s a firm date.
Until extended hours and less hype, expect that little corner of Chelsea Market to be a mass of thirsty diners beyond the usual crowds. Stay tuned for more from Sietsema about whether that wait is even worth it.