Local restaurant owner reflects on the pandemic
Bright Middle Eastern music pours through the speakers, delightful pastries, chocolates and fresh bread are assorted in cabinets and an exposed brick entrance gives way to posh booths where hearty dishes are seemingly endless.
TLV is an Israeli-Mediterranean restaurant with a little bit of everything on Front Street that has managed to serve as a beacon of hope and success for local businesses in the community.
“The opportunity presented itself to offer a little splash of hummus and a little splash of some pita,” said co-owner Ashleigh Passin. “We have been very warmly received in the community.”
Ashleigh and her husband Uri lived in Cleveland and worked in the film and healthcare industries, respectively, when they began to discuss the idea of embracing their cultural pride and cooking experience by opening a food truck.
Soon into their planning, the duo became aware of a more concrete business opportunity in Marietta, and they came to visit the area for the first time in January of 2020. Two months later, they had relocated, designed the entire restaurant and were ready to open.
“We pretty much wanted to bring the big city into a small town,” Passin said. “Hence the old building with spray paint and a bit of an industrial feel. We wanted to keep it funky and cool and progressive.”
TLV opened on March 9, four days before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions, yet they still maintained an optimistic point of view.
“It is hard to plan for anything because you are the mercy of this situation and at the mercy of what the governor is saying, so you have to kind of bend and flow constantly,” Passin said.
Despite the pandemic, Passin said business has been able to stay consistent and expansion has occurred and is still on the horizon.
“You are already working hard and then bam that happens,” Passin said.
“You panic a little. But it’s a great opportunity to be transparent with the community and you step up as an opportunity of service. How can I serve my community? I am here.”
Each booth has a thin veil of fabric that is used to seal the party into their own haven and transport them to an authentic, personal dining experience.
According to Passin, TLV is looking to create a bar area in the near future to complement their drink menu, which is largely composed of various wines sourced from Israel.
In mid-January, TLV opened a bakery section after seeing the need for fresh baked goods in Marietta and hearing how the community missed the longtime baking establishment of Brownie’s.
“We had spent all summer thinking about it, and I was asking each table you know, ‘what would you want your bakery to offer you’,” Passin said. “The two biggest requests from the community have been fresh bread and bagels.”
TLV’s pastry cabinets are lined with sweet pastries, such as chocolate twists, raspberry bear claws and baklava, as well as savory pastries and homemade pepperoni rolls.
“My favorite is probably the homemade cannolis,” Passin said. “I’m an Italian girl… there will be more things, we are kind of testing the waters now.”
With recent hires to help with their growth and the establishment of consistent clientele and new patrons, TLV hopes to continue to become a favorite spot.
“We have been blessed,” Passin said.