Less than a year after chef Samir Mogannam landed a casual hit with his Church Street Palestinian and Jordanian restaurant Beit Rima, the 29-year-old is expanding to a third location. The son of Burgermeister founder Paul Mogannam will take over the home of his father’s final burger business in Daly City (507 Westlake Center) this Saturday, with plans to reopen it as Beit Rima early next year. That means the last day to snag a burger before the succession occurs is tomorrow. The younger Mogannam is still in the process of converting his dad’s original Burgermeister location, in Cole Valley, to the second location of Beit Rima, which will open sometime in November.
Since opening on Church Street in a declining Burgermeister location this February, Beit Rima has drawn crowds and praise for its “Arabic comfort food” — dishes like hummus ma’ Lehma (warm hummus topped with spiced beef), chicken shish tawook platters, and fattoush that SF Chronicle critic Soleil Ho called “utterly delicious.” Mogannam’s dishes are based on his family’s cooking — Beit Rima is named for his Jordanian mother, and his father, Paul, is Palestinian. But influences also come from Samir’s cooking experience at more upscale restaurants like Aziza, Tawla, and Dyafa. The new Daly City Beit Rima will serve a menu similar to the original, with the addition of a full liquor license for cocktails involving Arak, an Eastern Mediterranean spirit flavored with anise.
The beginning of the Beit Rima era marks the end of Burgermeister’s reign, but Paul Mogannam is proud to see his son’s success. “Twenty years is a very long time to survive in restaurants in the Bay Area,” he says. “We had our run, we peaked — we had our write-ups and ‘best-ofs’ and reviews, and then the ‘better burger’ market was saturated.”
In its heyday, Burgermeister spanned seven locations. “In those days, 20 years ago, it was big chains, or high-end restaurants, and there was [little] in between,” says the elder Mogannam. He credits some of his success to great ingredients — his cousin, Bi Rite CEO Sam Mogannam, introduced him to Bill Niman of Niman Ranch, and Burgermeister became one of the first casual restaurants to serve Niman Ranch beef.
Before deciding to have his son convert Burgermeister’s Church Street location to Beit Rima, Mogannam says he was apprehensive: “But I thought, the numbers at Burgermeister are going down. Why don’t I give Samir a chance and see how that works?”
“I’m so proud of him, he’s so passionate, he loves what he does, he’s an artist and a chef, and everything [at Beit Rima] has surpassed everything I anticipated.”