Local business owner expands to Acorn Alley

The new mediterranean restaurant Laziza, affiliated with the Continental Grill on Main Street, will be located in the new Acorn Alley II in down town Kent.PHOTOS BY MONICA MASCHAK

The new mediterranean restaurant Laziza, affiliated with the Continental Grill on Main Street, will be located in the new Acorn Alley II in down town Kent.PHOTOS BY MONICA MASCHAK

Natalie Moses


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With the expansion of Acorn Alley underway, proprietor of the Main Street Continental Grill, Michael Awad, is looking forward to the opening of Laziza, a full service Mediterranean restaurant.

Michael and his wife Nicole have already earned an excellent reputation as family business owners by providing the city of Kent with top quality Middle Eastern cuisine. At Main Street Continental Grill, all of the recipes are a mixture of Nicole’s Lebanese and Michael’s Palestinian family recipes.

“With us being a family owned business, we’re making our own stuff. That’s what people love. People know quality Middle Eastern food and they don’t want the chains,” he said.

Michael described it as the difference between going to McDonald’s and having mom’s homemade burgers — there’s no comparison. With that philosophy in mind, Michael decided to open a full-service restaurant in the stage two development of Acorn Alley.

In Arabic, “Laziza” means excellent, which is why Michael chose that name for the new location. When deciding to open Laziza, Michael looked at what Kent is in need of.

“Kent is an excellent community. There really isn’t anything similar to what we really want to do,” he explains. “Everybody in Kent, if they want a meal to sit down, they have to go out to Howe Road, to Hudson . . . This is kind of bringing it close.”

While the current location is great for the university and people to grab a quick bite, this is a more relaxed atmosphere.

“If you want to enjoy your evening, sit down, have a glass of wine or the parents visit, that would be the place,” he said.

Laziza will seat approximately 250 people and has a banquet room for private parties such as weddings and showers. The interior will be very homey and Mediterranean feel with earth tones, a full bar, dark mahogany and marble.

The menu will be Mediterranean like the Continental Grill, but with many more options.

“We will still have the traditional items, of course, like the hummus, falafel and kabobs,” he said.

But the new menu will also include Middle Eastern specialties like mjudarra, lamb dishes, vegetarian dishes and a variety of salads. Michael also noticed that Kent is missing a really good steak or seafood house. Laziza will bring that to Kent by serving top of the line filet, strip steak, T-bone, ribeye and will also have a prime rib night special. As far as seafood specials go, Laziza will have specials like tilapia, shrimp, salmon and mahi-mahi. Also, Sunday brunch will be available.

While Michael owns another restaurant in Virginia, he is focusing mainly on Kent now. With one restaurant and another one opening, it is a hectic time.

However, Michael and Nicole are not stopping at the restaurant business. Michael has been in and out of the restaurant business since he was 16 and has also owned jewelry stores. In addition to Laziza, they are opening up Standing Rock Jewelers in Acorn Alley right across from the Pita Pit.

“It’s all fine jewelry; you can buy a ring anywhere from $10 to $50,000,” he said. “For many years, we specialize in custom making jewelry. If you bring me a picture, we’re going to make it.” Standing Rock Jewelers will offer quality, yet affordable designs. “We try to stay way below these chain stores,” Michael said.

With two businesses about to open, it is a very exciting time. Michael is mostly excited about what the expansion of Acorn Alley will bring to Kent. He credits the re-creation of downtown to Ron Burbick, the mastermind behind the entire Acorn Alley development. All in all, he thinks the development is “just making Kent better.”

He is excited about the jobs it will bring to town. Laziza itself will employ about 30 people, not counting the other establishments including a new coffee shop with a drive-thru, an outdoor clothing store and a popcorn shop.

From being in Kent, Michael learned that when people are happy with what you do, it is extremely rewarding.

“I’ve never seen people as loyal to their merchants as Kent residents,” he said. “This town is different, people here rally around the little guy. Chain stores don’t do as well. They support family owned businesses which is very important and that’s what I love about this town.”

By keeping the atmosphere friendly and warm, Laziza and Standing Rock Jewelers will be a great addition to town just like the Main Street Continental Grill. From someone who knows the business, Michael knows what the small town secret is all about. “Everybody’s like family,” Michael said. “Everybody comes in here and they’re treated like our own.”


Natalie Moses at [email protected].