If you've ever walked down Cortelyou Road, chances are you've come across , the shop sandwiched between Brooklyn Hearth and the Market known for its Middle Eastern and Moroccan fare.
Athough small in size, the restaurant serves up more dishes than one could probably think of, and is well known by both locals and foodies from the outer boroughs.
Its reputation and success is a testament to owner Avi Shuker and head chef Mimi Kitani, who jumped into the restaurant business three and a half years ago.
Home Cooking For a Community
"I think if Mimi's, or the Castello Plan, or the Market were in a different neighborhood, they would be just as successful, but to open a business in your own neighborhood helps the neighborhood," said Shuker, who has lived in Ditmas Park for over seven years.
The decision to open a restaurant was an organic one, Shuker said, and would not have happened without the shop's namesake, Mimi herself.
"The initial idea to open a restaurant was because of Mimi," he said. "She would cookfor friends, for family, for me, and we decided to open here."
Kitani agreed, saying the business was more of an extension of her everyday cooking than anything else. "It started as a really homey thing, it happened very naturally," she said. "We saw this spot and we just decided to do it."
Work Hard at What You Love and You Won't Work a Day in Your Life
While the business didn't experience run-of-the-mill growing pains associated with a restaurant's first year in operation, it still was a trying experience, Kitani said.
"It was busy from the beginning, but wasn't easy from the beginning," Kitani said. "For two months after we opened I don't think I thought of anything else."
Starting with a very simple menu, she said a lot of time was spent experimenting and expanding. "Themenu when we first were opening [consisted of] two main courses, humus and salad," she said. "I let myself experiment."
Experimentation, it turned out, was key. The menu now is jam-packed with flavorful options including several types of hummus as well as entrees such as stuffed filo dough with ground beef and spices, Moroccan beef stew and chicken meatballs with lemon jalapeno sauce.
"With anew business, if you want it to succeed, you have to experiment," she said.
Still, as all-consuming as the shop may be, it has never stopped being fun.
"Every business has a challenge," Shuker said. "But I find it very fun. The restaurant business is fun. Hosting people and creation is fun. It's not a challenge."
Expansion: On the Horizon?
Tightlipped when pressed about future growth, Shuker allowed that additional businesses might be in store.
"We always have [other projects] in back of our heads," he said. "We're doing other things, might expand the market and do another project."
But for now, Shuker said, Mimi's Hummus is his and Kitani's priority.
"This is a community place," Shuker said. "This is a community place for lunch and breakfast, but people are also traveling to Mimi's. We see yellow cabs stop here at night. People come from far away."
About this column: Meet the Owner allows you to get to know some of the owners of local businesses here in Ditmas park. To nominate someone for this spotlight, email editor Caitlin Nolan at firstname.lastname@example.org.