Robert Jirikdjian came to the United States from Beirut, Lebanon, 12 years ago to attend Towson University and decided to stay. Now he’s about to embark on a new adventure.
Jirikdjian hopes to open Kentlands Lebanese Bistro in November or December. The restaurant will be located in the space formerly occupied by Main Street Café at 317 Main Street. His menu will feature authentic Lebanese food including stuffed grape leaves with basmati rice, onions, tomato, parsley and mint; cheese cigars made from filo dough and stuffed with feta cheese, mozzarella and parsley; tabouli salad; kafta kabob with chopped steak, onion and parsley; and baba ghanuj, a savory dip of baked eggplant, tahini, garlic, mint and lemon juice.
Kentlands Lebanese Bistro will feature specialty wines and beers from the Bekaa Valley region of Lebanon. A variety of homemade Lebanese desserts such as baklava, cinnamon pudding, kenafeh and burma will also be available at the restaurant.
Jirikdjian is undertaking several renovations to enhance the look and feel of the restaurant.
“First, I am building stairs down to the lower level where I will have an art studio. The art studio will have classes for adults and hopefully for kids, too,” Jirikdjian said. “We will have paintings for sale, and I will host art events for people to enjoy painting and socializing while they have some wine and food. The events will be called Art & Wine.”
Artists such as Adrienne Kralick, a specialist in oil portraiture (www.adrienneartist.com), will teach in the studio.
“I will also teach but a little later because I will be busy with the bistro for now,” Jirikdjian said.
In addition, Kentlands’ artists will be encouraged to display their work in the studio.
The second part of the renovation includes the installation of an exhaust hood system for heavy cooking. This will enable the restaurant to serve fresh, grill style fare.
Next, Jirikdjian plans to open the kitchen area to the seating area so patrons may interact with the kitchen. During this phase, changes to the interior decoration of the restaurant will be completed as well.
“The last part of the renovation will be the exterior. I will install a shade-style awning that will enhance the visibility of the restaurant and make it more comfortable for customers to sit outside,” he said.
This is not Jirikdjian’s first business endeavor. “I used to have a gourmet Mediterranean grocery with a deli and cafe in Rockville that was very successful,” he said.
Jirikdjian calls his new Kentlands venture a “dream come true.”
“My passion is for food and art, and I will do everything possible to help the place to succeed,” said Jirikdjian. “I chose Kentlands for my restaurant because it will fit my idea the most. I’m really impressed with the beauty the city has, and I want to be part of it.
“Kentlands is a great neighborhood and a great location for business, for fun and for people to live in. I’m hoping the bistro will have many friends and will be a neighborhood place for people to meet for a nice lunch or dinner and to enjoy some fine art. I hope the customers will love the food, the service and the atmosphere of the place.”
Kentlands Lebanese Bistro will open at 317 Main Street in November or December 2012. Phone 240.645.8986 or email email@example.com for more information. Jirikdjian will launch a website for the restaurant as the grand opening draws closer.