Better with age
Alon’s celebrates 25 years in Morningside
Pop the Champagne! Alon’s of Morningside is 25 years old. In Atlanta’s ever-changing hospitality industry, that is quite an accomplishment.
What started as a simple market selling only a few varieties of bread has since grown into something more robust with another location in Dunwoody, cafe offerings and luxury provisions. Located in the same modest building it’s been in since the start, Alon’s is a source of comfort and good eats in the community.
The business was founded by Alon Balshan, an Israeli immigrant who moved to Atlanta in 1986 to work at Engleman’s Bakery, a wholesale operation in Norcross. A few years later, he fell in love with the Morningside neighborhood and decided to open his own storefront there. Balshan is a trained pastry chef, but opening a bigger operation seemed obvious. “I always loved markets. I grew up with markets in my hometown of Ashdod, where food and vegetables were brought in each morning straight from the fields, live chickens were offered and the bread was delivered daily from the local bakery,” he says. When he first set up shop, Alon’s only sold three breads, a couple pastries and a few desserts. Now it’s an epicurean’s paradise with prepared meals, international cheeses, meats and desserts.
How did Morningside get so lucky? When Balshan worked at Murphy’s restaurant just down the street, he became smitten with the people he interacted with on a daily basis. “Such down-to-earth and friendly customers that appreciate good food,” he says of the restaurant’s clientele. “That convinced me it was the best place to open my business.”
Don’t ask Balshan to pick just one favorite item on the Alon’s menu, because he simply can’t. But he will say that it’s probably best to start with a few of the classic dishes, such as the lamb sandwich and midnight cake—three sinful layers of chocolate buttermilk cake and white chocolate mousse. Not only have those been on the menu since the beginning, but they remain among the most popular items, too. On a sentimental note, his falafel sandwich (only available on Thursdays), baba ghanoush and hummus pay homage to his Israeli upbringing and incorporate his mother’s recipes.
Since opening, Balshan has perfected many recipes, and the one for success is clearly among them. Besides superb customer service and high-quality food, he says one of the keys to success is consistency. “It’s not something you achieve. It’s something you strive for daily, and you hope to get as close as you can to perfect.” When asked what the future holds, he hesitates. “The way I see it, it’s not about doing more. It’s about doing it correctly and successfully,” he says, finally. One thing is guaranteed to stay the same—those same delicious eats that Atlantans have appreciated for the past 25 years.
1394 N. Highland Ave. N.E., 30306
STORY: Lia Picard