Michael Mirz, a Kew Gardens resident who was raised in Israel, manages the restaurant with partner Eli Natan, his best friend from college.
“Mama always has a big presence upon us, and when you hear mom’s food you know it’s the best,” said Mirz. “Schnitzel is one of the best foods on a Jewish menu, so we put two of the best things together.
“My mission is to show people it’s not just about good food, but good vibes and a welcoming atmosphere,” he added. “I want Mama Schnitzel to be like their second home. We want everyone who comes in here happy to walk out even happier.”
Mama Schnitzel has quickly become a go-to spot, with customers raving about their burgers, sandwiches and desserts. A juice and protein bar will soon be added to the friendly and relaxing atmosphere.
New York City has one of the largest concentration of Jews outside Israel, with Brooklyn and Queens home to most of them.
“We added our own spice to the neighborhood, which was in desperate need of kosher dining,” said Mirz. “Jews are not even one percent of the world, but around 10 percent of New York City’s population is Jewish.”
Mirz feels their vision is becoming a reality.
“When people come inside, they say they feel like they’re in Israel,” he said. “We offer a home vibe mixed with a trendy Tel Aviv and Jerusalem style.”
Among the most popular items on the menu are The Mama Burger, a beef burger served with lettuce, tomato, avocado, fried egg, and fried onions, and The Mother-In-Law, a spicy schnitzel with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, avocado, and a spicy sauce.
“It is spicy just like everyone’s mother-in-law,” said Mirz.
Mama Schnitzel offers free delivery and catering for private and corporate events.
“We plan to add a Sunday brunch with shakshuka, malawach, hummus, fresh pita, and more,” said Mirz.
As for dietary preferences, Mama Schnitzel tries to accommodate everyone. The Impossible Burger is vegan, and sabich and homemade falafel are popular Israeli dishes.
“We do our best for everyone who is hungry,” Mirz said. “We have New York Sports Club across from us, so we have to accommodate the health gurus.”
As if on cue, Emanuel Inoyatov entered with his trainer ready for an energy fix.
“Ever since Mama Schnitzel opened, it has almost been my everyday routine to train with Tony Montoya, get their delicious Mama Burger at a great price, and go to work,” he said.
Mirz’s culinary influences come from his parents and grandparents. His father was a chef in Moscow and a restaurateur in Israel.
“Around age five, I observed my father in the kitchen,” Mirz said. “I would visit his restaurant in Israel, where he said ‘Come, let me make you a fresh steak,’ but I would say that I wanted McDonald’s.”
He said his recipe for success is “No matter what, treat every day as if it’s your first day.”
“Don’t let success get to you, since that is when people give up and patrons stop coming,” he said.”Whatever you do, you have to do it with love. If you don’t, then don’t do it at all.”