Traverse City Record-Eagle

the BIZ

April 16, 2014

Zakey owner celebrates six years in business

TRAVERSE CITY — Nabiel Musleh’s master’s degree in international relations seems fitting, given his unofficial role as northern Michigan’s ambassador to the Middle East.

Musleh owns Zakey Middle Eastern Cuisine, 149 E. Front St., and is revamping his menu and remodeling the dining area to celebrate Zakey’s six-year anniversary in August.

There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way, and Musleh said he’s thankful for the opportunity to serve unique food and a healthy dish of diversity to the Grand Traverse region.

“You are a guest in my house if you come in here,” Musleh said. “I love politics, I like history and I like people to understand that the Middle Eastern culture is great people. They are kind and they share.”

It was a long road to get Zakey up and running. Musleh came to the United States from Jordan in 1977 to get an education in the Flint area.

He dreamed of working for the United States government, but President Ronald Reagan put a freeze on hiring for foreign service, and Musleh instead veered into the restaurant business.

He plodded through food industry jobs for nearly 30 years, and worked in fast food shops, franchises and full-service restaurants. He came to Traverse City in 2004 to be closer to his son, Adam.

It was Adam who sparked Musleh’s fire to create Zakey. The father and son were enjoying a Middle Eastern dish of falafel pitas when his son asked for the Arabic word for delicious.

“I said, ‘Zakey’ and he said, ‘That’s it!’” Musleh said. “I said, ‘It’s got a ring to it.’ It’s more Americanized and you can remember it. It’s better than Adam and Nabiel Cuisine or the Falafel Shack. He was my major force.”

Musleh first opened Zakey in a tiny building “with three or four tables” at Three Mile and Hammond roads. He labored there for nearly three years before heading downtown. It was difficult at first to lay the groundwork for Middle Eastern cuisine here, he said. Many diners wanted to compare his dishes to Middle Eastern fare they’ve enjoyed downstate.

Text Only

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot