San Jose's Falafel's Drive-In still drawing long lines after 53 years in business

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Anton and Zahie Nijmeh moved from Israel with their family to San Jose, Calif. with a goal in mind to open a business that provided healthy and authentic foods to their community.

Anton turned Middle Eastern delicacy into a favorite in the Bay Area for more than 50 years by sharing his love for his food with others.

It's where Falafel's Drive-In was born.

"My mother and father opened up this restaurant in 1966," Falafel's Drive-In's Owner's Daughter Joanne Boyle said. "He took this place over from his brother, it was a burger place. It was a Snow White Drive-In. He started selling falafel balls. He actually fried them up and gave them out as samples to customers because it was just burgers back then. They had never even heard of a falafel. Literally no one in this area knew what a falafel was. They looked at it and dissected it and didn't know what to think of it, but they loved it. Now, everyone loves falafels. It's just like a burger here in the Bay Area."

A falafel is a deep-fried ball made of chickpeas or fava beans.



Anton Nijmeh created his own rendition of this classic dish when he opened his restaurant.

Once he found the perfect combination, the family stuck with it even after his death.

"It's my father's recipe and it's just amazing," Boyle said. People ask, 'why are they better'? They just are. He just had a great recipe and everyone loved it. I don't know what it was. We never changed it."

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Falafel's Drive-In obviously features delicious falafels, but they have a wide variety of menu items.

Boyle says the hummus and gyros are a fan-favorite as well as the banana milkshakes.

Each dish is made fresh in-house at their one location on Stevens Creek Blvd.

"We have it fresh every single day," Boyle said. "We don't have preservatives in any of our falafel dishes. We make them fresh every day and they are delicious."

Customers line-up daily from the front window all the way to the street.

They keep coming back because they say the food is that good.

"I've been coming here for about 10-15 years and it's just as good as I remember it," Joann Cubillos said.

Cubillos brought her kids with her to eat at one of her favorite spots in the Bay Area.

Her son, Joesph Pequero, said he hasn't been in some time, but it's as good as he remembers.

"It definitely brings back memories from when I came in the past," Pequero said. "It's a great experience to try it again because I haven't been here in a long time. The food is really awesome."

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Falafel's Drive-In is truly a family owned and operated shop.

It is the one and only "Falafel's Drive-In" in the Bay Area and the family aims to continue the tradition.

Anton Nijmeh wanted to provide his customers with a variety of foods that they could find no where else.

His children makes sure his dream lives on 53 years later.

"All of us brothers and sisters make sure one of us is here," Boyle said. "That makes a big difference, I think. We've been here our whole lives and we grew up here. It was very important to my father and it's a great place. It's a lot of work, but it's an amazing little restaurant. It's like home."

For more information on Falafel's Drive-In, you can visit their website here.

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