Closed for Business

This North Phoenix Kosher Dining Staple Closed Its Doors

Sara Crocker
My Spot Mediterranean Grill is taking over the space once occupied by Cafe Chenar.
Cafe Chenar, a kosher restaurant that was the only place in the Valley serving Bukharian cuisine, has closed.

Cafe Chenar made an impact on several levels, providing another restaurant for observant Jews to patronize and introducing diners to the food of the Jewish people of Uzbekistan. Blending flavors from Asia, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East, the menu provided an array of dumplings, along with hummus, uzbek plov — a meat and rice dish — and a large variety of shish kabobs.

Cafe Chenar was named Phoenix New Times’ Best Kosher Restaurant three years in a row — 2019, 2020, and 2021 — and was among our Top 100 Restaurants in Phoenix.

The Greater Phoenix Vaad HaKashruth, an Orthodox nonprofit kosher supervising organization, shared an alert on its site on January 23 noting the closure. Signage outside Cafe Chenar on East Bell Road has been removed and promises a new restaurant.

The north Phoenix restaurant was the third of three kosher restaurants run by the Uvaydov family, who came to Arizona by way of New York and Uzbekistan, including Kitchen 18 and La Bella Pizzeria and Restaurant. The family has since sold those restaurants.

click to enlarge
Cafe Chenar introduced diners to Bukharian cuisine. Uzbek plov, a hummus plate, and hanum were among the featured items at the restaurant, which opened in north Phoenix in 2018.
Jackie Mercandetti
"The intrepid diners of metro Phoenix will be stoked that the Uvaydovs have looked home for restaurant No. 3," New Times' Chris Malloy wrote after Cafe Chenar opened in 2018. "This gridiron stretch of north Phoenix needs better and more diverse food options."

Cafe Chenar was founded by Mazal Uvaydov and her son Natan, and their story remains on the restaurant's website. The cafe's latest business filing with the Arizona Corporation Commission was made by Ilya Uvaydov, who also opened Sababa Kosher Market next door in 2020, according to Phoenix Jewish News. Uvaydov, whose relationship to the founders is not clear, did not respond to requests for comment.

The windows of Cafe Chenar's former north Phoenix location have been papered over. A sign says the opening of My Spot Mediterranean Grill is "coming soon." A banner promises shawarma, falafel, burgers, and salads.

In another window, Cafe Chenar’s kosher certification, which expired on February 28, is still visible.