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Bar Haifa: Toronto's Palestinian-Israeli restaurant launching in Vancouver

"Our focus is connecting people through shared experience and finding a commonality between people through food.”

Before the month is out, Vancouver's outpost of Toronto's acclaimed Haifa Room will be up and running, after months of anticipation.

Called Bar Haifa, the concept comes from a remarkable example of co-existence in the form of its ownership team of partners who are from Palestinian-Muslim and Israeli-Jewish backgrounds. The Vancouver restaurant is set to open downtown at 410 W Georgia St on November 24. 

Named for the port city of Haifa, Israel, the restaurant began in 2021 in Toronto as a takeout window, launched by friends and restaurateurs Waseem Dabdoub, Fadi Hakim, Yossi Misrahi Eastwood, Daniel Suss, and Mark Kupfert. The Haifa Room quickly became known for its grab-and-go items, like sabich (pita sandwiches filled with eggplant) and falafel. 

Restaurant's opening faced lengthy construction delays

Ultimately, the business grew and the Haifa Room added on dine-in service, with Chef Jason Hemi (formerly of Fat Pasha and Rose and Sons) behind the menu serving a 28-seat dining room in a casual atmosphere. Among Haifa Room's signature dishes in Toronto are its Fennel and Apricot Labneh, Kofta, Boneless Lamb Shoulder, and hummus.

For its venture west to Vancouver, Haifa Room announced its presence on the ground floor of the Deloitte Summit building on Georgia at Homer back in May. The restaurant had been aiming to open by July, but faced construction delays. 

The 55-seat Bar Haifa will offer an "expanded menu that showcases the terroir of its new location," according to a media release for the Vancouver restaurant. 

Diners can expect locally-sourced ingredients to be front and centre, including fresh seafood, and a "dedicated take-out only street-food menu." While Toronto's Haifa Room has more of laid-back vibe, Vancouver's Bar Haifa is honing in on top-tier service. To that end, Bar Haifa will have some impressive local hospitality vets on staff: Cassandra Mosher, known from past roles at Bao Bei, Como and Bacaro, will serve as General Manager, and Alex Thornley, of Published, Bar Susu and Como, is joining the team as Wine Director. 

Bar Haifa will feature "a cocktail bar, chef's table, banquette seating and an open kitchen, along with a spacious outdoor patio that will double its seating during the summer."

'We all have family members living in Palestine and Israel'

The Bar Haifa team acknowledges that the restaurant's opening now falls at a sombre and troubling time when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian relations.  

“At first, words failed us. We’re devastated. We all have family members living in Palestine and Israel,” said Hakim. “As we grapple with the situation, we grieve for all the civilians, our helplessness. For now, our focus is connecting people through shared experience and finding a commonality between people through food.”
Follow @barhaifa on Instagram.

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