FREDERICTON – A Lebanese man in Fredericton left his ten-year career in civil engineering to open a new restaurant that’s bringing authentic Lebanese food to the capital city.
Richard Nakhle, the owner of Byblos Restaurant and Bar, came to Canada in 2001. He says his father, a life-long cook, and his father-in-law, the owner of the restaurant’s location, suggested opening the business. Nakhle had been working for ten years for EXP Services as a civil engineer when he made the career switch.
“[My father-in-law] was planning on having a restaurant here, we got talking, and he encouraged me to do it, and with my father’s help and experience with food and whatnot, we managed to make it happen,” he said. “I was always traveling the road and always away. So we thought ‘with this one here I might be around the family a little more.’”
He says people at his former job were understanding of his decision. They supported him by going to his restaurant during its second week.
“There was 24 of them here all at once. It was really nice of them,” he said.
Things have been busy since the restaurant’s opening in late June.
“Right now, I’m not spending more time with the family because everything’s new, I have to be here at eight o’clock in the morning, be the last one to leave, until we get settled,” said Nakhle.
Though he is not spending more time at home yet, Nakhle says he’s received lots of support from his family during the process.
“It was a team effort…They check-in on me, they help out with Facebook and all kinds of stuff, from behind the scenes if you want to say,” he said.
Nakhle had worked for the Diplomat and his father’s former restaurant, the Cedar Restaurant, before but “nothing as far as business goes.” He says the experience has been a learning one, as everything was new to him. For example, learning how to write recipes.
“You have to have faith and just carry on because we were already started, we passed the point of return,” he said.
Nakhle says his father and his friends with businesses have also been a great help.
“They definitely helped with little tricks and tips here and there,” he said.
Menu prices range from $15 to $22. Some of his menu options include chicken and beef shawarma, tabouli, hummus, baba ganoush, fatyre, kibbeh, amongst others. Rice, tabouli, and hummus are made every day.
Nakhle says he named the restaurant after Byblos, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In the restaurant’s sign, the ‘l’ has been replaced by a Phoenician man.
The Phoenicians – an ancient civilization who came up with the alphabet and sailing – first started in Byblos. They are among mankind’s earliest entrepreneurs.
“That’s the Phoenicians and the Lebanese,” Nakhle said. “If you look around, a lot of the Lebanese, they like to be their own entrepreneurs, and it’s probably heritage.”
That includes Nakhle, who has always wanted his own business. He says his wife also envisioned having a restaurant.
“We found that was the right thing to do…we felt this way was the perfect fit,” he said.
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