David Nussbaum’s first job was busing tables in a restaurant. That’s how he met some of the best people in his life. For a career, though, he went to film school. “I love to tell stories,” he says.
Then one day it hit him. “Maybe I don’t want to make movies,” he says. “Maybe I want to tell my stories through food.”
He found the right narrative with Aviv Hummus Bar, which opened in September on Capitol Hill and drew immediate raves for dishes worthy of an Israeli humuseria. From “cheeps” (fries) to spicy schug to falafel, plus spot-on hummus, some early customers “were almost in tears explaining how much this feels like home to them,” he says.
Nussbaum’s parents moved to Washington in the 1970s from Israel, and he’s regularly visited Israel throughout his life. He packed his bags in 2014 for an extended trip developing his restaurant plan, apprenticing at a Haifa shawarma shop whose owner had connections to his own family, then spending years working on a hummus recipe and raising money. The focus went beyond the food into re-creating the hustle and bustle of his favorite spots — “that shuk feeling.” The first rush of customers was probably three-quarters Israeli, he says, and now a broader audience is checking it out, some learning about new possibilities to crave.
“If I had room,” he said, pointing at the back counter, “there would be a shawarma spit right there.”
AVIV HUMMUS BAR
107 15th Ave. E, Seattle