“Instead of me cooking everyday for all of your friends, just open a restaurant, and I’ll cook it in there, and you can charge,” is what Ali and Beau Nazary’s half American/half Russian mother suggested. One month later they opened Lower Greenville’s Cafe Izmir, and the restaurant’s initial concept has become its most praised aspect.
“That is our home in there,” Beau says. “We did everything in there ourselves. Mom put the tiles on the wall; we did all the construction. The day we opened, our menus weren’t ready. We went ahead and opened and said: Let’s just serve what we have and ask people if they want vegetarian or non-vegetarian, and we’ll make them a plate, just like we do at home. And a month later, there was a line out the door, and it has never stopped.”
The menu offers a little bit of everything Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern: Lebanese, Turkish, Persian and Russian foods, served in a Spanish tapas style, a culinary concept that mimics the way the company is run – the elusive sum is made up of distinct parts.
“Mom is in charge of the kitchen. All takes care of the business part of the Izmir Group, and Dawn Wilson and I take care of marketing and advertising,” Beau says. “We only hire people that we can work with like family because this whole business is built on trust, respect and hard work.”
The restaurant has consistently looked upon its clientele in that same manner, and its clientele has responded in kind. Tuesday nights have been designated “customer appreciation night,” where the restaurant’s entire menu is available a la carte style, with $2 tapas and $14 bottles of wine.
And do the customers appreciate it. If you don’t make reservations a week or two in advance, you best like making new friends.
“We have customers who will wait 2-3 hours,” Beau says. “They drink wine, listen to music. Everybody on Tuesday nights knows each other, so they walk around and talk to each other.”
Quite likely, some are mingling in the parking lot, because Cafe Izmir has done all the expansion possible at its original location.
“We’re done,” Beau says. “We can’t go up, left, right or down.”
But that won’t put their fire out. Plans are underway for new locations around town, and for those who can’t get in, restaurant has begun free delivery in the area.
After all, mama can’t be everywhere.
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