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Wednesday, August 20,2014

New in town

Tabooli

by Jonathan Griffith
When the Avengers sat down to a post-movie credits meal of chicken shawarma, some folks thought the mainstreaming of Mediterranean cuisine couldnīt go any farther. They were wrong. The “make your own” model pioneered by burrito joints and sandwich shops is the next frontier. Joining Jerusalem Bakery on Lansing’s Michigan Avenue is Tabooli, a Mediterraneanstyle restaurant borrowing ideas laid down by places like Chipotle and Panera.

“The idea is fresh Mediterranean made right on the spot,” says Fathy Shetiah, co-owner of the restaurant. “Itīs very unique and very different without a lot of intimidating choices.”

Shetiah co-owns the restaurant with his brother, Mohammed Shetiah, who has owned franchises in the Lansing area for about 15 years. Tabooli will be Fathy Shetiah’s first.

Patrons start by choosing from Mediterranean staples like beef or chicken shawarma, eggplant or kofta, a spicefilled meatball made of beef or lamb. There are more decisions to make, but the State Department need not be involved. Once diners decide whether the base will be delivered in a wrap or bowl, theyīll go down the line and choose from toppings like hummus, pickled turnips or the eponymous tabouli.

Tabooli will also feature salads, paninis and specialty items. Prices range anywhere from $5.69-$7.49.

“Eventually, we want to try to have a feature of the month,” says Shetiah. “Like take a well-known item and put a Mediterranean twist on it.”

Fans of Mediterranean cuisine might notice the absence of favorites like fruit smoothies or exotic coffees. Shetiah asserts that one of the main appeals of Tabooli is its simplicity.

“We don’t want to do everything,” says Shetiah. “We want to do what we are really good at.”

For those who want their baba ganoush on the go, Tabooli will also feature a drive-thru, another first for Mediterranean cuisine in the Lansing area, as well as a callin/pick-up option. Tabooli will also be available to cater office functions.

Tabooli is set with a rough open date of Sept. 2. If you can’t make it to the east side, Shetiah and his brother plan to expand Tabooli , with more locations in the East Lansing and greater Lansing area.

“The hope is to lend a new appeal to Mediterranean cuisine,” says Shetiah. “And we have faith that people are really going to like our products.”

Tabooli 1620 E. Michgan Ave., Lansing Opens Sept. 2 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday- Saturday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

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