A new sandwich shop has opened in Upper Montclair at 206 Bellevue Avenue. Bros Sandwiches, owned by husband and wife duo Mohammad Hijazi and Defne Gulbuken Hijazi are very familiar with running a small eatery – as Mohammad’s family operated a deli in Astoria Queens for many years. Now, they’ve taken their knowledge and opened a fast-casual restaurant in town. Read on to learn what we know about Bros Sandwiches new to Montclair.
(Photo credit: @brossandwichess)
About the Owners
Mohammad was born and raised in Astoria, Queens as well as spent a chunk of his childhood with his family in Lebanon. He comes from a law enforcement background – studying criminal law and worked for the city of New York as a corrections officer. Then, Mohammad enlisted in the United States Army – and still is.
Defne is from Istanbul, Turkey. She came to America for college and got her Bachelors’s degree in Culture and Media Studies and then went on to study Strategic Design and Management at Parsons for her Master’s degree.
“My husband’s family owned a deli in Astoria. It was a very successful business in the neighborhood and while he was in college and later on his days off he used to work in the store with his father,” Defne told The Montclair Girl.
“I used to work for a high-end packaging production company in Manhattan as a project manager. Although we both never owned a ‘restaurant’ before, it has been our dream to open a restaurant like this one day. We both love the deli culture of New York and always wanted to merge that with Mediterranean specials since we both come from a Mediterranean background. Especially my husband has worked in a Mediterranean restaurant and delis in New York through his teen years in high school and until he started his job at corrections. So he’s much more experienced than me,” she explained.
About the Shop
Bros Sandwiches has been physically ready to open for at least two months already, Defne shared back in June. “Because we have to go through the Montclair township for permits and inspections, it’s been delayed for a long time so we were set back a little waiting for appointments. Better late than never, we are coming to the end of this process and so excited to finally open.”
The story behind the name of the shop is actually what the duo wants to achieve the most in their business – sincerity. “We really value community, friends, and family coming together – and we want to have a shop where people feel welcomed and comfortable like they came to their friend’s shop or home,” says Defne.
“We think it’s so important, especially after spending so much time apart from each other during the pandemic, that people feel comfortable coming to and spending time somewhere when they go to a shop. We want to create this warm environment in our store so we named it Bro’s Sandwiches. Like a friend is cooking for you.”
The menu consists of classic deli food like sandwiches, breakfast platters, a salad bar, paninis, and hamburgers.
There is also Mediterranean specials, “which we’re very excited about,” says Defne. “We will be making everything homemade and ourselves. We eat Mediterranean food everywhere so we will try to bring our best versions of home-cooked Mediterranean specials.”
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As for opening a business for the first time in the Montclair neighborhood, Defne shared, “We are so thrilled about the Montclair community already, honestly. We are not even open and people are curious and interested in the store every time we are there – it encourages us a lot! We think Montclair already has a great community, there are stores that have been there for many many years, which shows that the community appreciates and values local businesses. We hope people will kindly receive our new small business that appreciates and values the community just as much if not more.”
To stay in the know, follow. Bros Sandwiches on Instagram at @brossandwichess.