Our story

Joon Market is the manifestation of a decade-long culinary career, collaborative dreaming, and pop-up dinners.

 

The story begins with Seth Helmly who grew up in a small-town outside of Houston, Texas. Across the country, Saba Rahimian grew up in an Iranian-American household in Sacramento, California. These two had no logical reason to meet, but as fate would have it, Seth’s 10 years as a chef in the Austin food scene, and Saba’s relocation of the Granola Girl Food Truck from Sacramento to Austin (and subsequent closure of her business) put the two at Emmer & Rye under the tutelage of Chef Kevin Fink, some 27 years into their lives. 

 

They instantly connected over culinary creativity, locality, and sustainability. Before joining the Emmer & Rye team, Seth worked as the Sous Chef for Austin’s famed Jessie Griffiths, the king of local Texas butchery and cookery. While at Emmer & Rye, Seth focused on bread and whole-animal butchery, and after he worked as the Sous-chef for Chef Bryce Gilmore and Chef Mark Buley at Austin’s hospitality pride-and-joy, Odd Duck. 

While Seth continued building on his culinary career, Saba moved on to help open Odd Duck's casual-dining little sister across town at Sour Duck Market. She spent 8 months helping the new team establish back-of-house routines and recipes before heading off to the University of Texas at Austin to study journalism. Today she works as a freelance journalist when she is not at the restaurant. 

 

The pair’s decision to open a restaurant of their own grew from playful experimentations on their days off to an unwavering commitment toward connecting the community around food and a sustainable future for the restaurant industry. 

 

Saba and Seth relocated back to Sacramento at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. Like so many, their lives were upended. Meanwhile the hospitality industry as they knew it was flipped on its head. After several months back in California, the two decided to restructure and simplify their restaurant vision in order to serve the community in the best possible way during unusual times. 

“Joon” means life or spirit in Farsi, Saba’s first language. Seth chose the name for the restaurant as tribute to what the two needed to re-inspire their dream. He strives to capture the spirit of all of his culinary adventures in his food. Seth has created a menu that draws upon his roots in Mont Belvieu, Texas and the booming food scene in Austin. He pairs his heritage with cultural inspiration he acquired from Saba’s family and his own personal travels in Latin America and Southeast Asia. With Saba’s behind-the-scenes support and passion for design and marketing, the couple hopes Joon Market inspires and excites the community to eat well, be well, support local businesses, and think sustainably about what food means for the future of the community at large.