6 Things You Didn't Know about The Kebab Shop
Family matters at this San Diego restaurant chain
Best Middle Eastern (Critic's and Readers' Pick): The Kebab Shop | Photo: Anne Watson
If you’ve headed into The Kebab Shop recently for a quick lunch, it probably didn’t occur to you that the person who rang up your order or carved meat off the rotisserie for those döner kebabs owns the place.
“A lot of people think we’re huge, or that we’re wearing suits and counting money all day, and that’s not true,” says Wally Sadat, marketing director. “It’s still just us [the family] running the show, every day.”
Here are six things you didn’t know about this San Diego company:
1. It’s run by a clan of extended family members.
Four brothers, four brothers-in-law, and two sisters—all linked to Tony Farmand and A. J. Akbar, friends who bought the restaurant in 2008 and expanded it into a chain. The who’s who can get complicated: For instance, Sadat grew up with Akbar, and Farmand is his brother-in-law.
2. No one in the family had any prior experience running a restaurant.
Several of the family members were already spending so much time helping in the restaurants, and enjoyed it more than their day jobs, that they joined the business full-time.
3. They’re still accessible to their 200 employees.
Inside the employee locker rooms at all the restaurants is a sign with two of the owners’ cell phone numbers on it.
4. The recipe for the garlic sauce hasn’t changed since they opened.
“We make it every day and it’s the longest thing to prepare,” Sadat says. Its base ingredients are freshly made yogurt and pureed garlic.
5. The family was considered for a reality TV show.
They auditioned for a Bravo show about family businesses. Sadat says everyone “teased each other so much” during the interviews, and when the women in the family were asked to come to a taping wearing a statement necklace, he showed up wearing one, too.
6. They’re expanding.
The company’s 15th and first out-of-state location will open in Austin next month.