Longtime Atlanta restaurateur Udi Hershkovitz has operated multiple brick-and-mortar restaurants, including FuegoMundo in Sandy Springs and the former Ponce City Market restaurant Marrakesh, but he knew a traditional restaurant atmosphere would not offer the authentic Israeli street food experience he envisioned for his latest concept SabaRaba’s. Instead, he opted for a shipping container and found an ideal setup with many unexpected benefits.
Located in a 200-square-foot shipping container in the Parkside Shops in Sandy Springs, SabaRaba’s is meant to replicate the feeling of an Israeli “falafeliya,” where guests can walk up and order fresh falafel, shawarma, pita, and salads for lunch and dinner.
“It’s a much different vibe than a sit-down restaurant where you are greeted by a hostess and taken to your table—this is more casual and more fun,” says Hershkovitz, who insisted that SabaRaba’s needed to be in a kiosk just like falafel stands in his native country. “On the streets of Israel, you grab a bite and walk around or eat it standing up while chatting with friends.”
Although Hershkovitz’s initial inspiration for the shipping container was based upon the type of food he serves at SabaRaba’s, he discovered many more advantages in the process, including how much less time and money went into the building materials and construction process.
Hershkovitz utilized Food Trucks South to acquire and build out his shipping container, which is painted a bright yellow hue. The restaurant welcomes online ordering or walk-up customers who can either take their food to go or to the surrounding outdoor seating area to enjoy. Delivery is available through Grubhub and Uber Eats.
The unique atmosphere that his container provides has been the most surprising benefit for Hershkovitz. “For customers young and old, it’s new and different, and they think it’s cool,” he says. “Shipping containers are so much more customizable and eye-catching than traditional restaurant spaces.”
Another aspect that SabaRaba’s guests appreciate is how value-driven the concept is thanks to its small, portable space. Because the shipping container is more affordable to build and operate, Hershkovitz can pass along both cost savings and health benefits to customers. “I don’t keep anything processed that comes out of a freezer, so guests can get a healthy, fresh sandwich for $9. Being able to sell healthier meals at a better price in today’s economy is a huge advantage.”
He sees the popularity of shipping containers as restaurant spaces continuing not only for their affordability but also for their long-term adaptability. Thanks to the portable and versatile nature of shipping containers, Hershkovitz is considering both the possibility of moving to another area in the future or opening additional shipping containers in more neighborhoods.
Hershkovitz says the only downside to operating out of a shipping container is the lack of storage space, but he has overcome this challenge by using a storage facility nearby. “Nothing is impossible, and we make it happen, but if I were to do it over again, I would extend the size a bit,” he admits.
SabaRaba’s is located at 5920 Roswell Road, Kiosk 1 in Sandy Springs, 404-904-3881. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.