Riding food truck success, Holy Grill opens restaurant

June 29, 2017
A shwarma plate from Holy Grill. Photo courtesy of Ella Nahmias

Almost four years ago, Ella and Adiel Nahmias opened a glatt kosher food truck called The Holy Grill, serving Israeli food in the Garment District downtown. The business became so popular that the husband- and-wife team has now opened a restaurant of the same name in Pico-Robertson.

The Holy Grill at 8975 W. Pico Blvd. is glatt kosher certified, serving such fare as tender baby chicken shawarma, falafel, sabich (a pita stuffed with fried eggplant, hardboiled eggs and pargiot — tender chicken marinated overnight). For more Americanized taste buds, the restaurant offers a ground-beef kabob burger, chicken hot dogs and the Holy Burger Special (two beef patties, grilled pastrami, a sunny-side-up egg, red onion and a creamy barbecue sauce).

“Everything is made fresh daily,” said Ella, who manages the restaurant while her husband oversees the truck.  “We don’t use a pre-made mix for our falafel or anything else. That gives it an extra fresh flavor.”

The Nahmias hail from Israel — Ella from Jerusalem, Adiel from Afula. His family is Moroccan and would eat the traditional foods that his mom and grandmother cooked. One of Adiel’s favorite recipes is his mother’s cooked lamb with couscous and veggies.

Ella Nahmias stands in front of a shawarma spit. Photo courtesy of Ella Nahmias

All of my friends usually wanted to come over for the amazing food and love they received in our home,” he said. “I always loved watching my family cook, and was always interested in the way you had to dedicate time and  ‘give love’ to your food.”

After attending school and serving in the Israel Defense Forces air force, Adiel moved to L.A. in 2008. “It was a difficult decision, as I love my home country, Israel, and it was difficult to think of leaving friends and family,” he said. “But I knew it was the right decision for me at the time.”

Ella had been living in Southern California since 2002, when her family moved to the San Fernando Valley. She met Adiel at a mutual friend’s Shavuot party, and she said she knew immediately that  he would be her husband. They soon started dating, became observant together, got married and moved to Pico-Robertson.

Adiel built up his resume by managing Bibi’s Bakery Café on Pico Boulevard, while Ella has learned the business over the past few years. “When I met Adiel, I had to start learning how to cook on his level,” she said. “We sometimes argue who’s better at cooking certain things.”

The Nahmias negotiated over nine months to buy the space for the Holy Grill restaurant. Once it became theirs, they remodeled the building, adding large windows, a new floor and new countertops. “When we advertised during the whole three weeks of construction, people came in and asked when we were opening,” Ella said.

The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, and the couple still run their catering business for corporate functions and simchas. Ella said she is confident the restaurant will prove popular because of the portion sizes, homemade foods and the shefa (flow) of the place.

“What makes us different is the amount of food that we are giving,” she said. “Our flavor is from our secret family recipes, and we have positive vibes here.”

Their goal is to open more locations and serve a wider clientele beyond the Jewish community.

“I want our restaurant to continue to be inviting for all types of people,” Ella said. “This is a glatt kosher restaurant, but I don’t want to only target the Jewish communities. I want to make sure we reach everyone. I want them to come in and feel like we’re a part of Israel, whether they hear the music we play, or [experience] our customer service or see the amount of food we give on the plate.”

Though operating two food businesses can be stressful, Ella and Adiel, who are parents to two young children, have stayed strong.

“It’s mostly been amazing,” Ella said. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a couple that can handle it like us. We have some different views. My husband thinks more with his heart and I think more with my brain. I’m a little bit more business and he’s more heart.” 

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