Masabacha, Kopita, 524 South Gay Street, Knoxville, July 2019
It might seem unlikely that downtown would have a vegan restaurant prior to having a vegetarian restaurant, but Kopita opens tomorrow with a completely vegan restaurant featuring numerous locally sourced ingredients from Hines Valley Farm, Crooked Road Farm and Sugar Tree. Chef Paul Sellas and Franchesca Sellas are partnering with recent Knoxville resident Avi Zenatti who immigrated with his wife from Israel in 2007, to bring his culinary vision to the city.
Offering modern vegan middle eastern street food, it draws from various middle eastern traditions and is commonly found on the street, made for eating while mobile. It’s vegan, it’s healthy and its delicious, as anyone familiar with Chef Paul would expect. I’m not vegetarian, let alone vegan and I loved everything I sampled, which included the falafel, roasted cauliflower and hummus masabacha.
It underscores the fact that the restaurant simply offers good food at a reasonable price. That it is vegan will be important to some, but shouldn’t be a deterrent to anyone who doesn’t commonly follow a vegan diet.
The pita is shipped in from New York, the vegetables are seasonal and local where possible. As you would expect, you’ll encounter lots of tahini and olive oil. The tahini is also imported and Avi noted in our previous interview, it’s critical to him that it be the highest quality available. Customers may purchase bottled soda or water, but free fresh mint lemonade is also available.
The restaurant will offer a “uniform discount” of 50% to firefighters, police or military wearing their uniform. In addition to being friendly to uniforms, they are trying to be as earth-friendly as possible, so there are no to-go cups and other to-go containers are either compostable or recyclable.
Finishing touches, such as signage are still being put in place, but the restaurant opened quietly last week to work out processes and make sure they were ready to announce. They are closed on Mondays, but will open with regular hours tomorrow, operating from 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM on Friday and Saturday and 11:30 AM to 7:00 PM on Sunday.
Look for a chance to drop in and try some of downtown’s latest, increasingly diverse, food offerings. You’ll also find them at their website.