Nuts for New York

An Israeli market staple plants itself on the Upper East Side with plans to grow

17 Feb 2020 | 11:25

Nuts Factory opened its first U.S. location at 1030 Third Ave. with a drive to create a sensory experience for its shoppers. Aromas provided by three stainless steel roasting ovens greet customers at the entrance. On a recent Thursday, the smell was cinnamon, courtesy of a batch of house-made granola toasting at the front of the store. Nearby, a conveyor belt shuttled almonds into another oven for roasting, while behind them an industrial mixer folded pecans into a sugary glaze.

The machinery is a particular point of pride for store manager Din Allall. His grandfather developed the store’s roasting ovens, kicking off three generations of growth and entrepreneurship that reached New York at the end of 2019 with plans to expand within the city.

“This is my grandfather’s invention. He had the vision to do it in front of the customer, not in some basement or in a factory somewhere in Jersey or whatever,” Allall says, patting the oven. “He didn’t even graduate from elementary school, but he still had the vision. He was in the nuts business and he had this vision, like, ‘Let’s do it in the store.’”

Thanks to Allall’s grandfather, Nuts Factory products are dry roasted, meaning they’re more healthful than many similar products. “Most of the nuts here in America, when you see roasted almonds, when you look at the ingredients, you’re going to see oil, which means it’s kind of fried more than roasted,” Allall explains.

Positioned in the store windows, the machinery also works to lure customers in off the street, intrigued by the moving parts and enticing smells.

Allall’s father used their appeal to grow the brand into a household name in Israel, where Nuts Factory boasts 150 specialty boutiques located within grocery stores. Today, the company also claims its own lines of chocolate covered nuts, jams and fruit-based tea infusions, which all feature prominently at the New York location, along with rows upon rows of sweet and savory roasted nuts and other snacks.

For their Upper East Side location, the idea was to create a market feeling, as Allall explains. “You come; you fill yourself. Everything is in bulk. You can bring your own container. You see what you get, you can taste what you get. You see how it’s made. You can get as much as you want. You don’t have to get it pre-packed.”

Store's Bestseller

This last point is apt to please eco-conscious and the thrifty-minded alike. Allall and his team welcome zero-wasters equipped with their own containers, while the store’s pick-and-mix style containers invite shoppers to choose as much—or as little—as they like from the store’s broad selection of treats made in-house.

Oreo-coated pecans are the store’s bestseller (These also came out on top in an informal taste test by the Our Town staff.) The coconut-covered macadamias are also delicious, as are the shop’s candied walnuts. The boutique boasts an equally large selection of savory nuts, among which the za’atar flavor and sweet-and-sour macadamias stood out for their cocktail-hour appeal.

Beyond establishing the brand’s first U.S. presence, Nuts Factory’s Upper East Side outpost also marks the company’s first step into the world of prepared foods, with a coffee and sandwich bar in the back of the house that offers green chimichurri steak sandwiches (the store’s only non-Kosher product, Allall specifies).

“It [the sandwich] was the most delicious thing I ever tasted,” Nuts Factory customer and decades-long Upper East Side resident Marilyn Presser told Our Town. Presser also cited reasonable prices and friendly, knowledgeable staff among the aspects of the shop she appreciated.

Allall and his staff are eager to share their products, proffering samples readily and explaining where and how everything is made. Confident in the brand’s value, Allall plans to open a second Nuts Factory location in Chelsea in March, with more stores to follow.

Smiling as he talks about his products and his plans, Allall sums up the brand that his family’s legacy. “It’s as fresh as you can get,” he says before turning to assist a customer.

“You come; you fill yourself. Everything is in bulk. You can bring your own container. You see what you get, you can taste what you get. You see how it’s made." Store manager Din Allall