The Israeli-Palestinian duo behind Falafel St. Jacques

Click to play video: 'Montreal falafel joint serving up lesson on the meaning of community'
Montreal falafel joint serving up lesson on the meaning of community
WATCH: Falafel St. Jacques in Lachine is doing so well, that plans are in the works for a second location come summertime. But as Global’s Felicia Parrillo reports, what makes the restaurant special is how its Israeli owner and Palestinian manager have put their differences aside to lead by example – Mar 26, 2018

Just like many Middle Eastern restaurants, Falafel St. Jacques has its own way of making the traditional falafel.

But what makes their falafel unique is their restaurant – and who is behind it.

Falafel St. Jacques is owned by Ronen Baruch.

READ MORE: Recipe for spicy cashew falafel

Baruch is Jewish and moved from Israel to Montreal 30 years ago.

Always in the food business, he met Saleh Seh in 2004. Seh is also from Israel but is an Arab Muslim and identifies as a Palestinian.

Baruch quickly hired him and a few years ago, made Seh the manager of his restaurant.

The two say they realize their relationship may seem odd, but for them, it’s all they know.

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“The way we live everyday in Israel — Israelis and Arabs they live together — day to day,” said Baruch.

Israelis and Arabs have been fighting on and off for decades.

WATCH MORE: St. Jacques Falafel

Click to play video: 'St-Jacques Falafel'
St-Jacques Falafel

The reason why there’s conflict differs depending on who you ask.

But at Falafel St. Jacques, none of that matters.

“Whatever it is, whatever he thinks, if it’s politics or whatever — it all stays out the door — and they all come in to have a great falafel,” said Baruch.

The pair says their goal was to create a space where every person, regardless of their nationality or religion, can gather and eat.

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“Here, they’re eating together, they laugh together, like normal” said Seh.

Though the two won’t talk about politics, there is one small thing they will both freely dispute.

“That is the big war, who the falafel belongs to,” laughed Baruch.

“Of course, wherever you go, the Egyptian will say the falafel is ours, the Lebanese will say the falafel is ours, and the falafel in Isreal is our national food.”

But Seh says it’s clear that the falafel originated in Egypt.

“You can search, do whatever you want , it’s Egyptian,” said Seh.

Either way, the falafel at their restaurant is such a hit, they will be opening a second location, also in Lachine, this summer.

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