The bliss of biting into honey-drizzled baklava and baked Lebanese sandwiches will soon be complemented by fresh fruity drinks and ice cream at Manakeesh Cafe Bakery.
After three months of construction, Bliss Juices and Ice Cream, Manakeesh’s neighboring juice and ice cream bar at 45th and Walnut streets, will have its grand opening tomorrow on Aug. 3. The menu will include “blissful smoothies,” fruit cocktails and juices and small desserts including yogurt parfaits, pudding and ice cream.
The name “Bliss” was derived from Manakeesh owner Wissam Chatila’s childhood memory of enjoying fresh juices in Lebanon, said cafe manager Abd Ghazzawi.
The bar was created to complete the Lebanese dining experience. “It basically has all the authentic Lebanese items we don’t have at Manakeesh,” he added. “From the fresh juices to the fruit cocktails, it has a distinct Lebanese flavor to it.”
Like Manakeesh, the bar also serves items with an “American twist,” such as smoothies and ice cream. Though these menu items are not traditional Lebanese, they are “something we found important to us,” Ghazzawi said. The specific ingredients, however, do have a Lebanese quality, he added.
“A real emphasis of Bliss is the freshness and nutrition of our products,” Ghazzawi wrote in an email, adding that the ingredients are farm sourced. Customers can select fruit to blend their own smoothie or choose one from the “Healthy Boost” or “Detox & Recover” menus. With choices including Blueberry Flaxseed, Granola Crunch and Mango Cinnamon, many of the smoothies “contain antioxidants as well as ingredients with known nutritional properties, like black seed, turmeric [and] ginger,” he wrote.
The ice cream is from Bassett’s Ice Cream company, which Ghazzawi described as the “the best around.” He added that “we tried a lot of different kinds of ice cream, and theirs stood out to us.”
Ghazzawi is confident Bliss will attract customers year-round and does not view Ben and Jerry’s on 40th Street as a competitor. “We offer a completely different concept,” he said. “I think it’ll fare pretty well and there are plenty of hot drinks we can make to fit for the winter.”
Additionally, customers can easily access Bliss from Manakeesh because of the open entrance, he added.
2012 doctoral recipient Stan Rabinovich, a frequenter at Manakeesh, said he would definitely check out Bliss.
“I live two blocks away from Manakeesh, so it’s my place to eat,” he said. “They’re good at fusing more traditional [Lebanese] and American ways of cooking.”
2009 College graduate Jenna Trosko added that “with all the changes at Local 44 and new restaurants going further west, it sounds like a good edition to the neighborhood.”
Bliss, like Manakeesh, will be “unlike anything you will experience in Philly,” Ghazzawi added.
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