When Ibrahim Jaber and his business partner Saad Ahmed decided to bring “something different” to the Tri-Cities, they went on a tour of the region’s Middle Eastern restaurants.
The duo found plenty of options in Seattle, a few in Portland and virtually none in the Tri-Cities to find falafel, kabobs and other Middle Eastern staples.
Six months ago, backed by a commercial business loan, they opened Al Basha Kabab Restaurant at 3600 W. Clearwater Ave., at the intersection of Clearwater Avenue and Morain Street. The 1,100-square-foot space in a strip mall had been a check cashing business and was refitted as a kitchen and dining area.
Jaber, a native of Jordan who followed his extensive family to the Mid-Columbia eight years ago, said business has been strong enough in the first months to spark thoughts of expansion. Al Basha initially marketed itself to Tri-City residents from the Middle East and later expanded its focus to a broader audience.
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If all goes well, Jaber hopes to establish another outlet off Road 68 in Pasco.
Jaber is an experienced entrepreneur who already owned a car stereo business in Hermiston when Al Basha (“The King”) opened. Ahmed has a background in restaurants and is connected to Al Basha Market and Smoke Shop, a Middle Eastern market across the intersection from the restaurant.
The owners recruited a cook from Seattle to round out their five-person crew. The menu includes gyros, shawarma, falafel, shish kabab, taouk and hummus.
Jaber said all the dishes are prepared fresh, including sauces. Al Basha sources key spices through a supplier in Seattle. Its chicken and lamb is halal, meaning it is butchered and prepared in accordance with Muslim dietary law.
Al Basha Kabab is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
There’s limited seating in house, as well as takeout. They no longer are offering food delivery.
Mai House becoming steakhouse
Mai House Seafood Grill and Bar, the upscale seafood restaurant at Kennewick’s Southridge district, closed in mid-January and will reopen after a short remodel as Fredy’s Steakhouse.
The restaurant announced that its new owners would convert into Fredy’s Steakhouse & Bar in a Facebook posting last month. Mai House closed the week of Jan. 16.
Fredy’s will serve steak and seafood and offers a full bar and bar menu.
Fredy’s is at 3617 Plaza Way, near the Southridge Sports & Events Complex in Kennewick.