Several big-name local chefs have coveted the new build-out across the pavement from the Waffle Brothers on Corona Street, just north of Speer Boulevard, but most have skunked off because of their uneasiness in securing a liquor license.
But a liquid-fueled culture isn't particularly instrumental to Roya Khajeaian and her husband, Sam Khechen, who plan to open Cafe Byblos Mediterranean Grill in late August...sans a liquor license. "We want to open a Mediterranean-influenced restaurant that focuses on healthy, natural and organic eating, and having a liquor license isn't that important to us right now," says Khajeaian, although she allows that down the line, she and Khechen may pursue a beer-and-wine license. "We'll work on developing a good relationship with the neighbors, and with the kind of food we're serving, it's possible that we'll want to have wine and beer later, but at the moment, we have a lot of work to do before we open, and that's our main priority."
The restaurant, says Khajeaian, who also owns Kashi Kari Gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District, will be steeped in the "cuisines of Greece, Spain, Turkey and Italy," as well as Lebanon, which is where Khechen was born and raised -- and the cuisine he's been cooking for the past six years at Marrakeech Grill, a Lebanese restaurant on Colorado Boulevard. "Sam is a great chef, and after years of cooking in other kitchens, he really wanted to go out on his own, and while he's from Lebanon, he's cooked and traveled all over, and we want to bring more of a European flavor to the restaurant and do a fusion of different Mediterranean cuisines," she adds.
As such, Khechen's menu, explains Khajeaian, will include everything from pastas and kabobs to sandwiches and lamb, the latter of which, she says, is Khechen's specialty. "We'll also have a lot of different salads and smaller appetizers, many of them vegetarian, so that people can eat smaller plates and make a meal."
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And while patrons are grazing, they'll also be surrounded by local art. "We're going for a different atmosphere by showcasing the restaurant as a place where people have another point of interest, namely art from local artists," says Khajeaian. "I'm well connected to a lot of great artists, and we're designing the restaurant in a way that fulfills the concept that we're going for -- a place that focuses both on food and design elements."
The couple finalized plans with the contractors last week, and this week, they're submitting permits to the city to complete the build-out. "We're looking at a good eight weeks before we open, and we couldn't be more excited. We've been looking for a space since last November, and we immediately fell in love with this one, and we're thrilled to be in a neighborhood that has so much going on," says Khajeaian.