Opening one restaurant during a pandemic might be called brave. Opening two? Surely that's just madness. Not according to Adam Faigen, who launched Israeli fine-diner Golda in Prahran during shutdown number one. Lockdown number two has seen him open Chik Chak ("quick quick!" in Hebrew), a street-food version of Golda.
"As a small business owner, you're a problem-solver," says Faigen, who owns Gramercy Social at The Cullen Hotel in Prahran.
"Having a hotel restaurant is a great business model when the hotel is open. But when it shut I realised it was an unhealthy reliance. We put Golda in there and between the shutdowns we were doing 20 in each of our two dining spaces over two sittings, 80 covers a night. When we closed again, we had to cancel 1000 people for July."
Faigen chose acceleration over hibernation. "I thought we should keep pushing," he says. There was always a plan to do a Golda B-label, maybe in 2021; Faigen and his chef and business partner, Rotem Papo, brought it forward.
"Inside a week we built the website, the menu, registered the name; it was such a quick push," says Faigen.
Chik Chak has opened for takeaway in Ripponlea's Glen Eira Road shopping strip, in the old Superbowl site.
Everything comes in a pita or a bowl with dishes priced between $12 and $18. There's shawarma-spiced cauliflower with Israeli salad, tahina and sumac-roasted onions; pomegranate-glazed beef cheek with horseradish aioli; and Tunisian tuna with harissa, olives and preserved lemon.
"It's street food but we make everything ourselves and it's all considered and curated," says Faigen. "It's a pop-up for now but I feel like we're onto something and I hope we can make it permanent."
Open daily 4.30pm-8pm. Lunches coming soon.
54 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, 03 9532 8016, goldachikchak.com.au