Popular Bay Ridge restaurant Ayat will be opening a third Brooklyn location this month, bringing its Palestinian fare to Ditmas Park’s Cortelyou Road.
A spokesperson for the restaurant confirmed on Tuesday that the restaurant — known for its authentic dishes including shawarma, falafel, and mansaf — will open at 1616 Cortelyou Road “within the week.”
Capacity for the new space will be around 70 people with indoor and outdoor dining. Dishes at the other Ayat locations include a range of traditional Palestinian fare such as fattoush for $9, chicken shawarma at $10, a $21 vegan platter with falafel, and mansaf — the most expensive item on the menu at $38.
Married couple Abdul Elenani and Ayat Masoud, a contractor and lawyer, opened the original restaurant in Bay Ridge in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. It was a hit, and they have since expanded with another Brooklyn location in Industry City, one in the East Village, one in Staten Island, and one in Pennsylvania, according to their website.
Elenani and Masoud also have Al Badawi in Brooklyn Heights, Fatto Mano in Bay Ridge, and other businesses including three Cocoa Grinder coffee shops, halal butcher Falahi Farms, and fry shop Fritebar, according to the New York Times.
Ayat’s website says Elenani created the restaurant in honor of his wife, who is a lawyer with a passion for food. “Seeing this passion in her and experiencing her delicious food, it was clear to me that the community needed to experience this too,” the site says.
Since its opening in the midst of the pandemic, the proudly Palestinian business, whose owners invite people to explore Palestinian culture and urge understanding and peace, has gained a big following in Brooklyn, but has also faced a slew of online abuse. In 2021, it took to social media to decry fake reviews coming in, and since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza spurred by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack it was again flooded with one-star reviews.
Elenani told the New York Times that despite the reviews there has been no drop-off in business, and he told Eater that instead he is feeling a lot of community support.
That support seems to be building for the new Ditmas Park location, with a Facebook post in a neighborhood group about the pending opening gathering dozens of positive comments and no negative feedback.
“Wow, I certainly hope this is true!! It would be a beautiful and delicious addition to the hood!” one commenter wrote, while another said “I am SO excited their food is insanely good – y’all we are very, very lucky,” and someone else wrote “I’ve been to the one in Bay Ridge. Food is excellent. Welcome to the neighborhood Ayat.”
The storefront where the restaurant is opening, next door to Cortelyou Market By Key Food, was most recently an Aruveydic buffet and coworking space, and had earlier been a Chinese restaurant.
While the restaurant address is 1616 Cortelyou Road, it’s part of a single-story building whose main address is 1606 Cortelyou and that spans Nos. 1600 to 1620. The complex includes two commercial spaces at 1618 and 1620 Cortelyou Road, as well as the Cortelyou Market By Key Food at 1610 Cortelyou, according to city records. Kaled Doleh, who owns the grocery, signed a recent mortgage for the LLC 1600/20 Realty Corp.
In 2021, Doleh was granted a controversial rezoning of the large site to allow for the development of a new nine-story, 85-unit mixed-use development, which will have the supermarket and other retail on the ground floor. According to a report in Bklyner, Doleh adjusted his initial plans and reduced the development size to 80 units, 23 of which would be income capped through the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, to get the support of local City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, although that change is not reflected in the documentation of the rezoning’s approval.
Despite the rezoning going through, Doleh has not yet applied for a new-building permit, according to city records, and Ayat’s move-in signals there could be some delays to that plan.
A version of this story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner.