Say Goodbye to Sabra in Newton Centre
Owner Elie Saroufim tells Patch about the major changes coming as the familiar Mediterranean restaurant transitions to Terry O'Reilly Pub.
The rumors are true: Sabra is closing its doors on Monday, March 6 and will remain closed for the next couple of months, at least. But don’t start your wailing and gnashing of teeth just yet.
Owner Elie Saroufim says that Sabra is “the oldest restaurant in Newton,” operating in the same location for 35 years. Known to date for chef Hind Chahwan’s fresh, made-to-order Mediterranean cuisine, Sabra has been a cornerstone of the Newton restaurant scene for as long as most Newtonites can remember.
“But now,” Saroufim says, “It’s time to do a facelift completely.”
That’s right- Sabra will exist no more, but in its place will be Terry O’Reilly Pub. Saroufim could not be more enthusiastic about the upcoming changes and hopes to reopen just in time for the warmer weather.
“We’ll still have one page of Sabra food, healthy food,” he says. “But we’ll also have pub food. Burgers, wings, chicken potpie…comfort food. And ten lines of draft beer!”
The changes to the menu (not to mention the ethnic designation) aren’t the only innovations on tap for the restaurant formerly known as Sabra.
Saroufim plans to do a complete renovation to the décor and ambiance. The first change is that they will have two full-service bars, one in the front and one in the dining room.
“The front bar is for the younger crowd,” teases Saroufim. “The dining room will be for people our age, the older folks.”
He also plans to have live music in the bar and fireplaces and hardwood floors to make things “more cozy.”
But the biggest change will be to the restaurant’s façade. Saroufim plans to have the front windows reconstructed so that during the warmer weather they can be fully opened to create an open, airy feeling to the front bar area.
Another major change to the exterior will be the replacement of the familiar Sabra awning. Since Saroufim’s new partner, Terry O’Reilly, shares a name with a player from the Boston Bruins, the new awning will be sporting the associated black-and-gold (though Saroufim is quick to point out that neither the restaurant nor his partner is actually affiliated with the team).
There will also be some staffing changes, but some familiar faces will be staying on. Gracious manager Ashref Badoui will still be at the front of the house, but he will be helped by O’Reilly’s son Warren, who most recently was a working actor in LA. Chef Chahwan will still be running the kitchen, but she will be joined by “one or two more chefs- we’ll have more staff overall,” explains Saroufim.
Two major aspects of Sabra/Terry O’Reilly Pub are not going to change, however.
Saroufim is still committed to serving homemade food at reasonable prices; he states that lunch items will remain “all under ten dollars, so people can still afford to come back.” He also plans to keep prices low at dinner.
The restaurants retail line, Sabra Foods, will also still be available at retail locations, though Saroufim is eager to clarify the difference between their products and another food company with a similar name.
“There is another Sabra company,” he says. “Ours is all natural, no preservatives, and the logo, the writing, is like on our menu. It’s sold in Whole Foods, and other natural grocers. It’s not the kind you get at Costco or BJ’s.”
It’s important to Saroufim that people know that there are two distinct Sabra companies distributing products to local markets, as important as it is that people understand why he has decided to transform Sabra into Terry O’Reilly Pub.
“This is what Newton needs,” he says. “Langley and Union (streets) have been dark. Now they will be bright.”
Editor's note: Typically our "Newton in the Kitchen" column runs at 2 p.m. Fridays, but due to our high volume of news this week, we decided to run it a little earlier than usual.