COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Tarek Albast — the owner and head chef of family-run Mediterranean restaurant Mr. Hummus Grill — is ready for his newest locations to launch, after selling both of his former restaurants in January. 

Tarek Albast, the executive chef of Mr. Hummus, poses for a portrait. (Courtesy Photo/Mr. Hummus Marketing Team)

Mr. Hummus Grill and Pizza will open as a food kiosk at Bubbly Food Hall in New Albany, the city’s first food court-style venue located at 6031 Central College Road. 

“We are ready to go,” Albast said. “My menu is printed, my equipment is hooked, everything else is ready. The only thing we are waiting for, we have three or four more vendors, they are finishing their construction, and we are good to go.”

Albast said Mr. Hummus Grill and Pizza should be serving its Lebanese cuisine in the next 25 to 30 days. 

Bubbly advertised a grand opening in December, but its floors were still under construction in January, according to a Facebook post. A post on Feb. 3 read, “We appreciate the community’s continued support throughout our project, we will be announcing our opening soon.”

In addition to the Bubbly location, Albast said he is around two weeks from releasing details about his other new restaurant concept, which will be opening at 1131 N. 4th St. in the Italian Village. He said it will cater to the late-night crowd on weekends — serving food until the early Saturday and Sunday morning hours. 

Pandemic drove changes

Both prior locations of Mr. Hummus Grill offered customers a more traditional white tablecloth dine-in setting. 

But both Albast’s kiosk and North Fourth Street restaurant will mark a shift to counter service for the chef, and both pandemic-related trends and staff shortages played a part in that decision-making, he said.

“The pandemic was the main reason, and it opened our eyes to a lot of things that could make it a lot easier for the people,” he said. 

Home country’s influence

From his first food truck to his restaurant to his newest ventures, Albast’s mother has heavily influenced his business. 

Albast immigrated to Columbus from Lebanon in 2005, and while he went to school, his first culinary lessons were in his family’s kitchen. “I learned everything from her,” he said. 

He went from one food truck in Bexley starting in 2016, to a fleet of five. He sold those and opened a brick-and-mortar Mr. Hummus location on Bethel Road in March 2019. He opened a second restaurant, on Northwest Boulevard in Grandview Heights, announcing that he had sold both of those in late January.