Cafe Fino brings kosher pizza to Dallas
by Deborah Silverthorn
Special to DJW
Joey Ohayon said the seed of an idea was planted five years ago when he moved to Dallas from Montreal - and was amazed and disappointed to find no kosher pizza restaurant in town. Maybe some day, he thought.
Fast forward to last summer, when Stuart Mishler and his family moved to Dallas from New York, to the same surprise. "No kosher pizza?" That wouldn't do, and Mishler intended to do something about it. Mutual friends introduced the men, and the result is the taste of kosher New York, in the form of Café Fino, which opened Nov. 10, at the southwest corner of Campbell and Coit roads in Dallas.
"We're going to be the place people want to come, as a family, for meetings, or for parties," said Ohayon. "We're affordable, delicious and where everyone will find what they're looking for."
Café Fino serves New York-style pizzas, sandwiches, falafel, salads, desserts and more. "We'll be serving what people want," said Mishler. "There are many choices and all of them delicious, fun, and most at a price that families can feel comfortable with."
A separate area with a coffee lounge serving a variety of drinks entices customers to want to "hang out," according to Mishler and Ohayon. "We hope people want to come, visit and enjoy," said Mishler. "We're sure to have something for everyone."
Helping to create the environment is Donald Watts, Café Fino's executive chef, who trained with several European and American chefs in Oakland, Ca., and has worked for several prominent hotels and restaurants in Dallas. "I'm excited about how freely creative we are here," said Watts. "I enjoy making and creating sauces, desserts, and anything else my imagination stirs up. I'm thrilled to be helping to make Café Fino a big success!"
Pointing to the arcade area in the back of the restaurant, Ohayon said, "There's only one way in and out of the restaurant and, knowing kids are safe, everyone has a good time."
Mutual friend Larry Shafron brought the men together after much discussion was had about the need and want for such a restaurant. "I discussed the possibility of opening a casual style dairy restaurant with friends," said Shafron "and in a small world sort of way, I introduced Joey and Stuart, who had experience and were ready to make it work. They're a great team and the community will definitely benefit from Café Fino."
Café Fino is under the supervision of the Vaad Hakashrus of Dallas, a non-profit agency that provides kosher supervision. As a mashgiach, or supervisor, for the Vaad, for the past few months, Ohayon is familiar with the requirements necessary. "We look forward to providing the city with a delicious place to eat that can not only nourish the stomach, but the soul." In order to be inclusive of everyone in the community, most of the dairy items, including the pizzas and pastas will use cholov yisroel products, those that are supervised from start to finish.
'We É have something for everyone.'
"Every day people call asking about the 'new pizza shop,'" said Jeri Finkelstein, executive director of the Vaad. "The varied menu and comfortable surroundings are something so many are looking forward to and we're happy about working together."
Café Fino's hours are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant reopens Saturday after Shabbat and stays open "until the customers go home," said Ohayon. In addition, catering services are available for outside meetings, parties and events. Limited delivery service and a take-out counter are available.
Mishler and Ohayon are looking forward to bringing the community together through Café Fino. They have met with rabbis and leaders in town to introduce themselves. "We want to be a part of the community," said both gentlemen. "We've created a gathering hole for everyone to share in."
A family atmosphere is the goal. With Jonathan, Danny, Jacob and Benjamin Mishler and Gabriella Rose Ohayon, Café Fino has a ready-made clientele.
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, November 21, 2002