The savory aromas of golden browned falafel, keeba (a mixture of ground beef, onions and bulgur served with a refreshing yogurt/cucumber sauce) and tangy stuffed grape leaves wafted from the new Lansford Family Restaurant, in the Panther Valley Mini-Mall at 28 W. Ridge St., on Saturday afternoon, tantalizing the taste buds of the crowd waiting outside.
When the doors opened at 2 p.m., the tables quickly filled with the first of five seatings to celebrate the restaurant's grand opening.
Some patrons were eager to sample the classic Middle Eastern cuisine; others were drawn more to the traditional local foods, which include an array ranging from hoagies to hamburgers to liver and onions.
"A lot of people are familiar with falafel and kebabs," said new owner Hany Askandar. Others, he said, opt for the familiar favorites.
The restaurant, most recently known as Rosie's, opened under its new ownership about two months ago.
Customer Anne Trauger said she's been coming to the restaurant every Thursday for 35 years. She described the Askandar family and restaurant staff as "very courteous, very kind. "I find the food very good," she said.
The restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sundays, said waitstaff Ilesha Montesrin. The restaurant is closed on Wednesdays.
In addition to its regular menu, the restaurant also offers a takeout menu that includes traditional breakfast foods including eggs, pancakes, french toast, creamed chipped beef and home fries; lunches that include club sandwiches, hoagies and meatball subs; and dinners that include shrimp scampi, fettucini Alfredo and salmon filets.
Middle Eastern foods also include gyro sandwiches, calamari, shish kebab and tabbouleh salad. Desserts include ice cream, sundaes, tiramisu, cakes and pies.
Askandar is from Clifton, New Jersey. He is a member of the newly-opened St. John the Beloved Orthodox Coptic Church, housed in the former English Congregational Church at 47 W. Ridge St. Askandar, originally from Alexandria, Egypt, plans to move with his family - wife Mervat and daughters Merhan, 14, Maryan, 11, Monica, 9, and Megan, 4 - to Lansford this summer.
For the grand opening, Askandar presented a buffet of crowd-pleasing Middle Eastern foods, including falafel, cheese burak, keeba, chicken kebab, hummus and stuffed grape leaves, with baklava for dessert.
Askandar stood next to the Rev. Daniel Matthewson of St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Coaldale, as Matthewson cut the ribbon Saturday. Matthewson also blessed the business.