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Chef Alon Shaya aims to change hospitality culture with new restaurant Saba

This is Shaya's first restaurant since last year's bitter split with longtime business partner and fellow celebrity chef John Besh.

NEW ORLEANS -- Saba officially opened its doors at lunchtime Friday, at the corner of Nashville and Magazine Streets in Uptown New Orleans.

The restaurant is a new beginning for owner and chef Alon Shaya.

"You'll taste the food and you'll see that this is the best work we've done yet," Shaya told WWL-TV.

This is Shaya's first restaurant since last year's bitter split with longtime business partner and fellow celebrity chef John Besh.

Last Year, the Besh Restaurant Group was rocked by allegations of widespread sexual misconduct.

Shaya departed the group to start out on his own.

Saba serves up the same brand of modern Israeli food as Shaya's former namesake restaurant about a mile away, but, he maintains the difference in his new venture is more about culture than cuisine.

"What we have to do is work together to change the fabric of how people are treated everyday in our industry," Shaya said. "There should be no reason why the hospitality industry is not a safe and comfortable work environment for everyone that joins."

As part of his effort to combat harassment and discrimination in the workplace, Shaya has hired Suzi Darre' as the director of people and culture. It will be her job to enforce a zero tolerance policy at the restaurant.

"We doubled down on this idea and we said we're going to put our employees first and that's going to be our focus and our culture," Darre' said. "Our message is they should give respect and also expect respect."

Shaya and his new company Pomegranate Hospitality put in place a set of core values that stress accountability, empowerment, communication and respect.

"I think it's more about what we feel in our hearts is the right thing to do, more than trying to prove anything," Shaya said. "I feel great. I am so excited about the future."

Judging from his first lunch crowd at Saba, Chef Shaya is clearly moving on with a full house.