Nur, a trend-setter that helped kickstart New York’s latest wave of modern Middle Eastern restaurant openings, has permanently closed. The popular restaurant abruptly ended its four-year run in Flatiron without announcement after dinner service on January 22.
Owner Gadi Peleg, who’s also a founder of Breads Bakery, says the decision to close was “out of his control.” He claims he negotiated a rent break with his landlord earlier in the pandemic, while Nur was temporarily closed, that allowed the building’s owner to terminate the restaurant’s lease at any time. According to Peleg, he was notified in mid-January that Nur would need to close with roughly a week’s notice.
“It’s a shame,” he says. “We were in a great place. We really hit our stride.”
Peleg did not notify customers dining at Nur on January 22 that it was the restaurant’s final night of service. Employees were likewise left out of the loop: The restaurateur didn’t tell staffers that Nur would be closing until the following day. “We just wanted to enjoy one last great night and keep it going as long as possible,” he says.
All 15 of the restaurant’s employees were relocated to Peleg’s other businesses in the city, including the two-year-old Lamalo, multiple locations of Breads Bakery, and a forthcoming project from the team, which he declined to comment on. “Nobody’s compensation was affected one bit by this closure,” he claims. “Everybody continued to get paid with no lapse whatsoever.“
Nur opened to early acclaim in 2017, foreshadowing a larger wave of Middle Eastern restaurant openings anchored in Israeli cooking. “It wasn’t so long ago that Israeli food in New York meant mainly falafel or shawarma served in a pita that might as well have been a cardboard envelope,” Eater critic Robert Sietsema wrote shortly after Nur opened. “Now all that is changing as Israel-identified chefs arrive in New York City, bringing with them a modern cuisine far more lush and nuanced.”
A year before the restaurant landed in Flatiron, chef Tomer Blechman opened Fort Greene’s popular Israeli spot Miss Ada. Celebrity chef Eyal Shani came next, first with Miznon, a location of his casual Israeli pita chain in Chelsea Market, and later with HaSalon, a Hell’s Kitchen party restaurant with another location in Tel Aviv. Peleg followed up with his own second restaurant, a more casual venture in Midtown called Lamalo, in 2019.
Nur was early to the party, and the wave of openings that followed was partially the result of increased access to local produce and other ingredients crucial to Israeli cooking, Peleg says. As little as 15 years ago, opening a restaurant like Nur wouldn’t have been possible, according to the restaurateur, but today he says New York chefs can make modern Middle Eastern food of roughly the same quality as in the Middle East.
“I couldn’t be more proud that Nur in its own way helped define that in New York,” he says. “Nur lives on in that way for now.”