Laziza weighing customer opinion before grand opening


Owner Michael Awad, his wife Nicole Awad, and their son Ibrahim Awad on the second floor of Laziza, Feb. 14. Photo by Chelsae Ketchum.

Ben Jordan

Laziza, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Acorn Alley II, opened its doors Jan. 5, but is still waiting to have its grand opening.

Michael Awad, owner of Main Street Continental Grill, partnered with developer Ron Burbick to open the restaurant. Awad said he’s holding off on the grand opening until the restaurant is running more smoothly.

“We’re kind of doing a very soft opening right now to make sure we tweak out all the little issues that may happen,” Awad said. “I want people to understand and bear with us. If we mess up please give us another shot, but let us know positive and negative feedback… we want to improve on it.”

Awad looked at several different locations before expanding including Stow, Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls. He said the chance to be a part of Burbick’s operation is what cemented his decision on the Kent location.

“From the time we met it was a match made,” Awad said. “He’s a great guy, he’s all about Kent and he wants to improve Kent. He’s sincere and genuine. He’s not really after the money—he’s after making Kent a bigger and better place. It had a lot to do with Ron and his operation.”

Awad said he thinks the new location is a great opportunity and he is happy he stayed in Kent.

“We came to Kent six years ago, and we love this town,” Awad said. “This town with the university and everybody around here, they’re really rallied around us and we’re happy. We like Kent.”

From the start Awad and his staff quickly learned how to pace themselves to accommodate the rush of business. The staff has begun to tweak when and how to take drink orders, when to place kitchen orders and how many people or parties to seat at a time. Further improvements to the kitchen and dishes will ensure they use the right combination of spices and ingredients.

“We look at the kitchen, and every single day improve on certain things,” Awad said. “We may need to prepare a dish a little bit different and get our seasonings right. We make everything from scratch so we do make mistakes.

Laziza’s menu offers more traditional food that isn’t offered at Main Street Continental Grill. It includes more salads and vegetarian dishes, steaks and seafood and a daily Mediterranean dish. A full service bar, banquet room, and a heated patio are also new. Awad said he may eventually add valet parking, too.

“If you want something good and quick, it’s Continental Grill,” Awad said. “If you want to enjoy a meal and sit down and have a glass of wine with your steak, lobster or any Mediterranean dish, come to Laziza.”

Awad said once they think all the details of the restaurant are worked out, they will have a grand opening.

“Until those are done, I think we’ll wait on the grand opening,” he said. “We really don’t want to do anything as far as a grand opening or ribbon cutting until we’re comfortable with ourselves.”

Contact Ben Jordan at [email protected].