All families bicker — for the Hechme family, it’s impossible not to when you live and run a restaurant together.
The Hechme family operates Hummus House. Restaurant owner Albert, his wife and head cook Samar, and their son Anthony form a team that loves to make and share food.
Albert Hechme said this love is apparent in every bite.
Hummus House is a Mediterranean eatery on East Third Street in South Bethlehem. The restaurant specializes in vegan and vegetarian foods but also serves meat-based dishes.
The Hechme family opened the original Hummus House on Jan. 16, 2014, in Allentown.
Before Hummus House, Albert Hechme worked in photography for pharmaceutical companies. Realizing he was burnt out from 12 years of traveling across the country for work, Albert Hechme said he decided to switch careers and kick-start a family business.
“We always had it in the back of our head,” Albert Hechme said. “Me and my wife were like, ‘You know what, let’s just give it a try, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll move on to something else.’ It’s been almost 10 years now.”
In November 2021, the Hechme family relocated to South Bethlehem for more space in hopes of expanding the restaurant’s menu. Albert Hechme said he was hopeful that, with the universities and hospitals in the area, the new location would attract a new, large customer base.
Since the move, the Hummus House menu has expanded from 10 to almost 40 items.
Hummus House’s website defines the business as a “restaurant/deli” but Anthony Hechme said he doesn’t like to define the spot as any one type of eatery.
“It’s not a restaurant, it’s not fast food, it’s not a deli,” Anthony Hechme said. “It’s just good, handheld food.”
When Hummus House first opened, the restaurant served primarily Mediterranean food. As the business started to see an influx of vegan and vegetarian customers, Hummus House began offering more plant-based options.
Anthony Hechme said they first attempted to fuse the new plant-based dishes with their current Mediterranean ones, but once Beyond Meat and other similar products came out in 2012, he started “going crazy” with creating new vegan dishes.
“When all of that started, we just continued to experiment with it and new ideas kept coming,” Anthony Hechme said. “We just kept doing more and more.”
Albert Hechme said the family has considered making the restaurant 100% plant-based, but many customers have said they enjoy being able to have meals with friends who don’t share the same diet.
Despite being a vegetarian, Anthony Hechme is the primary creator of all of Hummus House’s items — both plant- and meat-based.
Anthony Hechme said he bases many of the menu ideas off of typical, unhealthy American foods, but finds a way to make them health-consciously. He said Hummus House strives to offer meals that prioritize both health and freshness.
“We do everything from scratch,” Albert Hechme said. “We don’t pre-make our salads. We don’t chop our salads and have it ready in case somebody orders it. So when you come in and you order a Mediterranean salad, it’s shredded, chopped up and made for you fresh.”
Hummus House also boasts an extensive list of juices and smoothies. Stephanie Vega, head cashier and waitress, thinks this is one of the things that sets Hummus House apart from other restaurants.
“Not everybody has fresh juices that are actually fresh,” Vega said.
She said Hummus House stands out on the South Side by being the only vegan or vegetarian restaurant.
There are a few other vegan restaurants in the surrounding area, but Anthony Hechme said he doesn’t feel as though he’s in competition with any of them.
“When it comes to competition, I just try to stay to myself and stay ahead of myself,” Anthony Hechme said. “We’re so unique that I don’t think we have a competition.”
Between its sizable menu and convenient location, Hummus House is becoming a regular destination for some Lehigh students.
George Merrifield, ‘23, said he was intrigued to try Hummus House because of the restaurant’s welcoming aesthetic. He first visited the restaurant during his junior year and has returned many times.
Merrifield said he recommends Hummus House to his peers and is excited it is gaining traction.
“I talk a lot with my friends about how I feel like Bethlehem is a bit of a food desert,” Merrifield said. “It’s nice to have some higher-quality options, even if that isn’t in the form of groceries, but just in the form of takeout.”
Emma Moriarty, ‘25, said she finds Hummus House to be the most vegetarian-friendly restaurant around Lehigh because of the variety of meat alternatives they offer.
As a vegetarian, she said it can be difficult to find restaurants that not only suit her dietary needs but also offer good quality food at reasonable prices.
“There were a lot of soy-based alternatives for a lot of the meat products that they had,” Moriarty said. “I thought that was pretty cool. I don’t see that in other places around here.”
Anthony Hechme said customers should expect new things from Hummus House in the future.
“We are evolving,” Anthony Hechme said. “We are changing. We’ve never stopped. There’s a lot more to expect and a lot more to come.”