A taste of Lebanon came to Mount Lebanon, along with a second foodie destination with Middle Eastern cuisine.
Laziz Lebanese Cuisine operates out of the Executive Building at 615 Washington Road, about two miles north of Lebanon Stores, where Time Out Time Eat has set up shop on Boulevard du Mont Liban.
The two share several commonalities. Each is a family business owned by a husband and wife team, with three of the four people being first-generation Americans. Both restaurants opened during the pandemic and struggled with supply chain issues, rising food costs, employee searches and visibility.
“It was a long-time hope,” said Adele Fayad, who owns and operates Laziz with her husband, Licha. The couple moved from Lebanon to Mount Lebanon in the early 1990s and attempted to open a restaurant in the southern hills on several occasions. They were successful this time, launching April 4 in a space that Aranchini House had occupied before them at 615 Washington Road.
The Fayads renamed it Laziz, originally an Arabic word meaning “one who is pleasant”. They ended up with a nice, well-lit place with plenty of space that needed new furniture and equipment. Signage near the entrance directs customers to the restaurant, which sits below street level.
Laziz fills a need as well as stomachs, as Lebanese restaurants aren’t common in western Pennsylvania.
At a young age, Adele learned to cook and bake from her mother and prepares a number of menu selections. Her five sisters and two brothers have also learned well from their cooking lessons and are working in the Pittsburgh-area restaurant business.
However, Adele isn’t the only culinary luminary in her immediate family. Licha has been a Sous Chef for 30 years at LeMont Restaurant, a five-star Diamond Award restaurant atop Mount Washington. He too cooks food for Laziz and owns a car dealership/petrol station in Whitehall. They have two sons.
A five-minute drive from Uptown Mt. Lebanon, John and Oat Becker strive to get a foothold at Time Out Time Eat in the Lebanon Shops. They were launched on December 21, 2020, shortly after the coronavirus vaccine rollout began.
“We agreed to buy the business when the pandemic hit (earlier in 2020). We couldn’t have picked a harder time to open,” said John Becker, who along with his wife bought Cocina Mendoza , a Mexican restaurant.
“We took all their equipment and refurbished it,” he said. “Actually, it’s more of a redecoration – doing some painting and adding some pictures. The layout is the same.”
Becker, who has extensive banking experience, worked in restaurants in high school, college and later, but admits he’s not the chef his wife is.
Oak Becker, originally from Thailand, is ingenious in mixing and matching the items that support an extensive menu, from soups to a “burst of curries” to desserts that include banana rolls and mango rolls.
“Oak does 90% of what we offer and cooks to order,” said John, a New Hampshire native who met his wife on a trip to Thailand. “It’s not just Thai and Indian specialties” that are available, “it’s the Oak version of everything.”
Both couples say they are getting favorable reviews from diners, but hope business picks up. “It’s still quite slow,” said Adele Fayad. “We don’t want it to be crazy all the time, but we want to be busier.
“We have our good days and our quieter days,” said John Becker. “But we are feeling some optimism as word of our food spreads. Once we are more established, we believe we will do well every day.”
The Beckers live in Mount Lebanon with their two young daughters.
Laziz is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday; it is closed on Sundays.
Time Out Time Eat’s hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 to 10 on Friday; noon to 10 on Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday.
Both restaurants offer dine-in, take-out and delivery options.
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