If you told Eyal Banayan that he would grow up to be a chef, he would’ve told you that you were crazy. If you told him that he would end up cooking for superstars such as French Montana and Drake, he would’ve told you that you were out of your mind. “I remember the first thing I ever made was a burger and the guy who I made it for said it was the most disgusting burger he had ever had,” he said, as he popped a french fry into his mouth.
Banayan was on his way to finish medical school when his father suddenly suffered a severe heart attack, “I had to make a decision, I either finish school or I take over the family business.” The family-run business was a shawarma restaurant. Not long after, Banayan found himself serving shawarma to Robert Downey Jr. in the famed post-credits scene of Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Since then, he’s worked as a private chef to several celebrities and public figures, including Rae Sremmurd and the infamous “Pharma Bro,” Martin Shkreli.
It was around two weeks ago when real estate investor, Larry Schafer gave Banayan a call, “I’ve owned this building for some time now and I really wanted to open up a restaurant, but I had no idea where to begin. I’ve known Chef Eyal for years now, so I gave him a call and in a little over 24 hours he was on a plane to New York. The rest is pretty much history.”
Although Juno isn’t new to Bushwick, it’s hard to believe that the restaurant that now resembles a café you would come across in Nice, France, was once a dark and broody dive bar.
Banayan and Schafer had one goal, to bring Bushwick five-star food at a one-star price. It was clear during their soft opening, that they did not disappoint. Patrons came from all over the neighborhood to take in the new concept, menu and ambiance.
The new menu, fully conceptualized by chef Banayan, is eclectic and has several omnivore and vegetarian options. From the pancake battered southern fried chicken sandwich, to the fried portabella mushroom burger, there is truly something for every palette. In fact, Juno might be the only place in Bushwick where you can get an incredible truffle vegetable soup for only $7.
“I’ve traveled across the world and there really is nothing like Brooklyn. I learned some of my biggest life lessons while living in Bedstuy,” said Banayan, who was sporting a Young Money Entertainment chef’s jacket. “Brooklyn deserves beautiful food, so, this is my way of giving back that involves me doing what I love to do.”
Juno’s interior and menu isn’t the only thing about the restaurant that has undergone a facelift, their drink menu received an upgrade as well – the Juno Mojito is a burst of everything you never knew you needed in a cocktail.
“I’ve been coming here for years and it’s incredible to see how Chef Eyal has been able to transform this place,” said Christina Liao, a local and longtime patron of Juno. “It looks completely different, but the vibe is still the same. They really do make you feel like family.”
From the moment I walked in, I saw the staff embrace every single person that walked through the door, greeting them as if they were old friends.
I walked into Juno expecting to spend no more than an hour and a half there; I left a little after midnight with a full belly and a smile on my face. I was humbled to have been invited into a family that is looking forward to not only bringing Bushwick fine dining at an affordable price, but helping the community thrive and connect through beautiful food.
Juno is located right off the Central M Train at 1264 Myrtle Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11221. For more information follow them on Instagram.
Cover image courtesy of Angela Altus.