SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — May 12 is National Hummus Day and Assaf Gleizner, co-owner of IsReally Hummus, is ready. At his new storefront on Eisenhower Drive in Savannah, Gleizner dished all the details on what it’s like to open your own hummus business.
“Once COVID started, you know, everyone became their own personal chef,” Gleizner said. That was part of what inspired him to open his own business. The other part? Realizing he could actually make hummus that was good.
“I’m very picky with hummus so I was too nervous to make it because I knew I’ll hate it,” he said. “But COVID gave me so much time off, so I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll try it.’”
He and his wife (now co-owner) Tegan Miller tried it. Not only did he not hate the hummus, but it was actually pretty good. As a joke, they created the name for their business: IsReally Hummus.
The name plays off the fact that Gleizner is Israeli and moved to the United States in 2007. He grew up eating hummus in Israel but when he moved to New York to study music at a jazz conservatory. He would fly to Savannah for a vocal competition that he had played for during the last ten years.
“I fell in love with the city,” he said. His wife visited the city two years ago. She fell in love as well.
Then COVID-19 hit. Suddenly, people weren’t looking for artists to play at their nonexistent shows. Because Miller worked as a vocal teacher and could transition to doing her job online, they realized they could go anywhere now. They moved down to Savannah the July after COVID hit. By August they had bought a house.
In November, they were walking at the market in Forsyth Park when curiosity got the best of them.
“What do you need to do to be a vendor here?” they asked. They started the application process on a whim and a month later they were accepted as vendors for a hummus company that did not yet exist.
They were asked if they could start in January, four weeks away.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, of course, we can,’” Gleizner said. Then he mimed typing into a keyboard and said, “How to start a business in four weeks?”
They had to do everything. They had to come up with a recipe, one that was solid and unchanging. They had to find containers, equipment and packing labels. Everything you can imagine goes into a business, they had to find it.
Then they started selling. Fast.
“We made 30 containers,” He said. “We sold out in 30 minutes.”
So, the next week they made 90. They sold out in an hour and a half.
Now, in 2022, years into the pandemic, IsReally Hummus makes around 400 containers of hummus a week. They also have a storefront that is open three days a week, still attend local farmer’s markets and their hummus is sold at Collins Quarter at Forsyth.
But it has not all been a walk in the park.
“It’s a lot of labor,” Gleizner said. They are still operating at a scale that means that they are using small food processors and induction plates with a large pot of water that takes an hour to heat to a boil. They still have to package and process all of the items that they make.
The labor of making the hummus is what Gleizner says is the hardest part of the business. But, he says it’s all worth it.
He said that what he enjoys the most is the customers.
“I think the best part is the sampling,” Gleizner explained. He said that he liked the ability to see people try his hummus for the first time.
What’s next for IsReally Hummus? They just launched their own falafel balls which are called “Falawfully Good” and they are available at the IsReally Hummus storefront.