Two ‘Americanized’ versions of ethnic restaurants to open in January

A mini food court with an international flair will serve as a training ground for refugees and immigrants, especially those from the Middle East.

Longtime restauranteur Ted Hamze is leading the effort to start Tawooki Mediterranean Chop Chop and Pieazza in the former Fiero Pizza space at 3101 W. 41st St., the same retail center that houses Fuddruckers. He’s hoping the restaurants will be ready to open Jan. 10.

Hamze, who operates Zaroty Pizza Kitchen at Marion Road and 41st Street, said he will serve as the volunteer manager. Sarah Noam, an Iraqi immigrant, will be the trainer.

“We have a lot of younger refugees growing up in the area,” said Hamze, who immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon decades ago. “We need to integrate them faster and show them the culture.”

Six of the new hires are training this week at Zaroty, and another six will start learning skills next week, he said.

Not all of the workers are younger immigrants. The falafel maker is a 65-year-old chef from Syria who had his own fast-casual restaurant in Damascus for 40 years, Hamze said.

The restaurants, which are owned by 605 Sandwich Co., will have their own kitchens but share a counter for ordering and the dining areas.

Tawooki will serve items such as gyros, kafta kebabs, chicken tawook, chicken shawarma and falafel. The meals will come as sandwiches, burritos and rice bowls.

“We’ll also have laffe, which is a grilled flatbread sandwich with meat, cheese, French fries and other ingredients that the customer can choose,” Hamze said. “Those are big in Lebanon, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.”

Pieazza will have pies, flatbread pizzas and pockets “like the kind you find in Turkey and Greece. They will be similar to calzones but heavy on Mediterranean flavors.” The restaurant also will serve steamed and baked pasta dishes.

Hamze describes both restaurants as fast-casual American versions of ethnic eateries.

“You need something Americanized to attract people. Tawooki will do for Mediterranean food what Qdoba did for Mexican food.”

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. Sunday.

 

Two ‘Americanized’ versions of ethnic restaurants to open in January

A mini food court with an international flair will serve as a training ground for refugees and immigrants, especially those from the Middle East.

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