Astoria's Street Food 'King' to Sell His Famous Falafel in Supermarkets
ASTORIA — Soon, fans won't have to wait in line to get Fares "Freddy" Zeideia's famous street falafel — they'll be able to make it themselves.
The self-proclaimed King of Falafel and Shawarma — whose fresh Middle Eastern food draws hungry hordes to his food truck at Broadway and 30th Street in Astoria — is planning to start selling his renowned falafel in local supermarkets.
Zeideia is still hammering out the details but said the falafel will come in a ready-made mix, which will hit the shelves of grocery stores in the next few weeks, starting with markets in Astoria and later expanding to other neighborhoods.
"You just make it, fry it, and that’s it," said Zeideia, 47, who has been selling his food on the same Astoria corner for more than a decade.
Originally from Palestine, Zeideia was working at a stationary store in Astoria 11 years ago when he decided to launch his own food truck to peddle recipes he learned from his mother back home.
"I always wanted falafel and shawarma that I couldn’t find anywhere — or as tasty as the way I grew up with," he said.
His menu consists of his specially spiced falafel fried in oval-shaped "sticks," the best-selling marinated grilled chicken, and spit-grilled beef and lamb shawarma. All dishes come served on pita or over basmati rice, complete with salad and homemade white sauce and hot sauce.
Zeideia's food has earned him a large and loyal following, with people flocking to line up at his cart daily.
"His shawarma is the best shawarma in New York. I’ve tasted a lot of food, but theirs is the best," said Astoria resident Mina Metly, who said he walks to Zeideia's truck from his home near 24th Avenue two or three times a week to get his fix.
"If I lived on the next block, I would come two or three times a day," he said.
Zeideia is easy to spot, in his trademark uniform — a pair of vibrantly patterned pantaloons and a matching scarf on his head. He knows his customers by name and spends most of his day working the grill with one hand, while simultaneously greeting passersby and or chatting up his regulars.
"I have a problem of, I talk too much. You know what I mean?" he said. "[But] that's what's keeping me in this business, and that's why I like it."