My Main Street-Kapara by Keechen Pappi
Best of Both Worlds
Emanuel Yakobov never would’ve dreamed cooking during the pandemic would result in him becoming a restaurateur. His story will inspire you to honour your roots and embrace your community.
In-store plant wall
You could say Kapara by Keechen Pappi’s inception story has a lot to do with Instagram. Emanuel Yakobov, the 28-year-old owner of the Thornhill-based restaurant, has always had a love for cooking and developing recipes that honour his Israeli roots. He had been working at his parents’ rehabilitation clinic in Vaughan and, when the pandemic lockdowns were put in place, he spent a lot of time in his family’s kosher kitchen. “I’d cook different dishes and post them on social media. People got to know my food and they liked it,” he says. When restrictions eased and small gatherings were allowed, he’d cook for his family and started taking requests from followers on Instagram. “It ended up becoming a business that I wasn’t expecting,” he says.
Owner, Emanuel Yakobov
At the same time, Yakobov (who was born in Israel and moved to Thornhill when he was 12) noticed there was a lack of kosher food in the community and not a lot of selection. So, he asked a long-time family friend (with experience in the hospitality industry) to partner with him, and his business moved from his kitchen to a nearby synagogue. “We received so much support, but we found everyone wanted more. We saw this as an opportunity to open a takeout restaurant so we could expand our services,” he says.
Kapara (which, in Hebrew slang, is a term of affection) not only attracts kosher Jewish clients from the Greater Toronto Area, but also non-kosher customers who value the food and the culture. “My restaurant can be described as Canadian-Israeli cuisine. It allows me to express myself as an Israeli who’s now Canadian,” he says. Kapara’s Israeli salad bar is a customer favourite, but it’s their mouth-watering schnitzel that keeps people coming back. “Schnitzels are popular around the world—it has Jewish and German origins, but there are Asian, Moroccan, Greek and other ways to prepare it,” Yakobov explains, adding his favourite schnitzel restaurant when he was a boy was next door to his home in Israel.
Starting an eatery as a lover of food who hasn’t been formally trained was a “whole new ballgame” for Yakobov, and the City of Vaughan was instrumental in supporting him—not just financially through the Starter Company Plus and the My Main Street (MMS) programs, but with mentorship too. “I was entering into the unknown and the Vaughan Business and Entrepreneurship Centre representative provided me with great guidance. It helped me see the big picture and gave me the push I needed,” he says. With the funds he received, Yakobov was able to repair critical equipment in his temporary location.
The popular cook says his passion, some luck, destiny and hard work have brought him to this point, but he doesn’t discount his community. “I don’t just see kosher Jews in here—we have lots of non-Jewish customers with an appreciation for Canadian-Israeli food,” he says. “The community wants us to succeed. I’m not going to let them down.”
7700 Bathurst Street, unit 12