By Debbie Hall
Mezze Foods began as a dream by two brothers. It became a reality in 2012 and continues to grow and thrive today.
Even with the pandemic affecting the food and beverage industry landscape, the owners have demonstrated that their unique products offering great taste, and health benefits continue to be in demand.
The Las Vegas family-owned Mediterranean foods company developed oil-, preservative-, dairy- and sugar-free hummus dips, salads, and grape leaves. Using a ghost kitchen, Mezze Foods creates fresh products using ingredients that can be pronounced by everyone. Over 90 percent of the items offered are vegan, and 100 percent of the menu is vegetarian.
Hummus consists of cooked, mashed garbanzo beans blended with different spices to create a dip or spread. Mezze offers a traditional hummus, baba ganoush (a dip made with smokey, fire-roasted eggplant blended with its charred skin), Red Pepper Roasted Hummus, Sun Dried Tomato Hummus, and Tzatziki, (low-calorie, hearty, cucumber, yogurt dip—the only item on the menu with dairy).
Specialty products combining blended flavors are their specialties and can only be ordered through Mezze Foods. Mango Habanero Hummus (sweet heat dip), Black Bean Chipotle Hummus (subtle heat with two kinds of beans), and Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus (hot and zesty) add a kick to the favorites. Another of their specialties, Beet Hummus, offers a naturally sweet taste with no sugar added using freshly roasted beets.
“This is the most fun part,” says co-owner Avetis Mazmanyan. “We taste it; we offer it to our friends and family to get their opinion, and then we sell it at the farmers market to gauge the response.”
Salads were added including the Three Bean Salad (chickpeas, pinto, and kidney beans), Quinoa Tabouli Salad (gluten-free), and Beet Salad (julienned beets, parsley, and lemon). Dolma, their vegetarian stuffed grape leaves with seasoned rice, is perfect for lunch or dinner during the hot summer. Platters, pita bread, and baklava rounds out the menu.
Avetis, along with his wife and parents, share their Armenia background with family recipes they have created for their products. He grew up in Los Angeles and, at the age of 16, moved with his family to Las Vegas in 2008 when the recession first started for a fresh start.
“I love this city, and while we put it on the back burner, we always wanted to open a small restaurant after the recession,” says Avetis. “My family was enthusiastic about this dream to share our delicious recipes with the community.”
However, he admits that it would be a significant investment with a calculated risk factor in opening a restaurant. But Avetis (obtaining a business degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and his brother (attending a culinary school) wanted to find a way to fulfill their dream. In 2012, they took the plunge and rented space in a farmers market to test their products and determine how big of a demand there was for hummus.
“While hummus is like salsa and very mainstream today, in 2012, hummus was just gaining popularity and offered as part of Middle East and Mediterranean cuisines. But the farmers markets allowed us a low-cost, low-risk opportunity to start our business.”
When the farmers markets were closed due to Covid-19, Avetis and his family brainstormed about other avenues for revenue. They offered home delivery and, “now we are so excited about this part of our business. We can’t reach every customer in Las Vegas with our retail outlets, so we can now offer our products to the entire community with deliveries that we handle ourselves.”
Mezze Foods also partners with nonprofit organizations. Their commercial kitchen is located in the YMCA center, and the rent that Mezze Foods pays to the YMCA provides additional funding for services provided by the YMCA.
Products can be purchased at select farmers markets and grocery stores in Southern Nevada with plans to expand into more retail outlets. Online ordering, delivery (including contactless), and catering is also available. For more info, visit mezzefoods.com.