Standing the test of time, Byblos Café at 129 West Chapman has been a mainstay in Old Towne for 21 years. Husband-and-wife team Adel and Zalfa Mahshi bring authentic Mediterranean offerings to the landmark café, which was once a deli and grocery specializing in Lebanese offerings.
Originally from Lebanon, the Mahshis used to frequent the old deli. We used to buy our groceries there and I would bug the previous owner, asking him if he would ever consider selling the place to me, Adel said. Finally he decided to get out of the grocery business, so I bought it.
Attempting to maintain the original grocery, Adel soon realized that the deli side of the business was more profitable. He then came up with the hot lunch special and the rest is history.
I took a chance and transformed the space, turning it into a café and doing what I love to do, which is to cook, he said. Everybody looked forward to our new restaurant opening up, because there were very few places in town at the time.
With two patios in the front and back, and a seating capacity of 60, the café offers everything from kabobs and eggplant dip to hummus, lentil soup, gyros, and falafels. Breakfast is served all day and through the evening. A variety of omelettes are available, along with yogurt and fava beans cooked with garlic, lemon and olive oil.
Everything is cooked on the light side, Adel said. Our food is considered healthy, light food. Open Monday through Wednesday from 8 am to 3 pm and Thursday through Saturday from 8 am to 9:30 pm, Byblos Café continues to serve a steady and diverse clientele.
We still have customers who have been coming here for 20 years when it was first a sandwich shop, Adel said. They are confident and I am confident that they are getting a good product made with heart. I appreciate that.
Published in the Apr/May 2010 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Karen Anderson, Photograph by Will Hare
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