Get to Know Atlanta’s Cabinet King, Israel Peljovich
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Get to Know Atlanta’s Cabinet King, Israel Peljovich

Marcia Caller Jaffe

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

In many of the fabulous homes covered in my Chai-Style Homes column, two names pop up: Yaacov Golan (unique lighting) and Israel Peljovich, the go-to guy for master-crafted woodwork, dining and kitchen tables, chairs, buffets, shelving, cabinets, built-ins, and vanities.

Peljovich, a spicy, gregarious grandfather, emigrated from Cuba in 1959 and made a circuitous path to Atlanta to put his stamp on well-healed homes and businesses. He and his business manager wife, Lidia, have an inspiring success story with Arts-N-Laminates.


Jaffe: How did you end up in Atlanta?

Israel: The short answer is I followed Lidia (also from Cuba), who eventually became my bride and is related to the Atlanta Kresses, Birnbrey and Saul families. The longer answer is, at 19, I was working for Fidel Castro designing roads and bridges. I donated my salary to his revolution. Then I opened my eyes and supported the counterrevolution (am still waiting).

I then left for a kibbutz for Latin Americans in the Negev for two years, then to Be’er Sheva, where I was a translator for Irish people in the yarn business. My parents, who were in the schmatta business in Cuba, followed me to Israel. I immigrated to New York in 1961. While there, I ran a fudge and taffy business both in the city and in Cape Cod. Soon after, we married and moved to Atlanta, where my hobby became a profession.

Lidia and Israel Peljovich’s recent projects include the restoration of 500-year-old synagogue doors from Spain.
Israel Peljovich.

 

Jaffe: How do you win the bids on so many Jewish homes’ decor?

Israel: A lot of positive word of mouth keeps us busy. I also have a tight relationship with quality home builders like Zvi Bekerman. We give a fair price, and people know that. By the way, we just did a 14-foot island for a local home.

 

Jaffe: Do you create for projects outside the residential realm?

Israel: We also do commercial jobs, like the Falcons’ on-air commentary desk, Turner’s pavilion at the Atlanta Olympics and even synagogues. Note these restored 500-year-old carved doors from Spain. We have done work for B’nai Torah, Or VeShalom and more recently Ahavath Achim’s meeting rooms. I also designed and crafted the interior of a church in St. Louis here and shipped it to Missouri.

 

Jaffe: What happens in your studio/workshop?

Israel: We are off Peachtree Industrial Boulevard inside 285. I have several master craftsmen, some of whom I trained, working on quality products. We order the raw wood which you see here in oak, maple, zebra, poplar, purple and walnut, and it ends up smooth as glass.

 

Jaffe: Do you ever return to Cuba?

Lidia: We have been several times, but I no longer identify with them. We eat Cuban food, dance the dances and play dominos. It stops there. I am thankful we made it here as true Americans.

Israel: Today, I don’t see that opening trade with Cuba will give much help to the average Cuban. The government takes 51 percent off the top from one’s business. I know someone who owns a jewelry store there. Whatever he sells, more than half the profit goes straight to the government.

Lidia and Israel Peljovich’s recent projects include the restoration of 500-year-old synagogue doors from Spain.
Lidia and Israel Peljovich’s recent projects include the restoration of 500-year-old synagogue doors from Spain.

 

Jaffe: What do you do for leisure?

Israel: I treat myself by driving an original steel 1929 Model A Ford, which has been completely restored.

Lidia: We have wonderful children and grandchildren. Interestingly, my sons are both engineers. One designs airports and is based in Baltimore, Md. The other owns a commercial general contracting company.

 

Jaffe: So, Lidia, what’s your role here?

Lidia: I’m the business manager. But more importantly, I keep him in line.

Photos by Marcia Caller Jaffe

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