Jan 13, 2022 • 20M

The COVID Comedy Stylings of the Sussmans

Brothers Eli and Max talk about their memes, opening a restaurant at 30 Rock, and their future in hospitality

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Melissa McCart
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Photo courtesy of Samesa

At the start of the pandemic, brothers Max and Eli Sussman created a super engaging Instagram memes that speak for the restaurant industry.

It’s fearless and funny and spot-on when it comes to the restaurant perspective. And it’s produced mornings before the brothers and business partners get on with their workdays.

“There have been folks that neither of us have spoken to in years that have reached out and sent messages to us, and said, ‘Love the memes,’ said Eli. “Everybody deserves to have a nice laugh and to have a minute of the day when you're not incredibly stressed out about losing your business, or getting COVID, or losing your job.”

Pre-COVID, Max — an early chef at Roberta’s in Bushwick — moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan with his family, and is now running Pizza Replicator, a pop-up pizzeria (with a name inspired by Star Trek) where he’s making 80 pizzas at a stretch in Breville countertop pizza ovens at a local coffee shop. Meanwhile, in New York, Eli has all hands on deck at Samesa in Rockefeller Center — not far from where Ignacio Mattos opened Lodi and JJ Johnson built another location for Fieldtrip. 30 Rock could not be more different for Samesa, what started as a scrappy stall in a Brooklyn food hall as a fast-casual homage to the Middle Eastern food they ate growing up in Metro Detroit and at Halal trucks in New York.

Broken Palate caught up with the brothers to talk about inspiration behind the memes, the twists and turns in the brothers’ careers, and what they imagine for their post-pandemic future.

“What [the pandemic] has done,” says Eli, “is it's forced us to reimagine all of our business interactions and how we are approaching the future of what Samesa and what this pizza thing could look like. Max is incubating this concept in Michigan that we're really hoping we can turn into a true, real concept so that he can use his car for maybe other things besides hauling around pizza boxes. And then Samesa in Rockefeller Center is going strong. We use the Sussmans to just promote whatever and everything that we're working on.”

Listen in for more.