Family from Jordan serves Middle Eastern, Greek cuisine with show

It all started with a family, a set of recipes and a passion for homestyle food. In 1973, the Azar family moved to the United States from Jordan. After living through four wars, the family decided to move to Spokane in search of a better life.

After moving to the states, Najeeb and Najla Azar bought a 7-Eleven convenience store on Empire Avenue and then purchased the café across from the 7-Eleven. That is where they opened the Azar’s Restaurant in 1980, which at the time was the only Greek, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant in the Spokane area, owner Katy Azar said.

In 1990, Katy Azar, daughter of Najeeb and Najla Azar, opened another location at 2501 N. Monroe St., which is now the only location in Spokane.

“My mom was a great cook and thought it would be a great idea [to open a Mediterranean restaurant],” Azar said. “And it has done well ever since.”

Like the first restaurant, Azar’s Restaurant on Monroe uses the recipes that Azar’s mother brought to the states.

“We have a unique cuisine,” Azar said. “I cook homestyle meals that are healthy and homemade. There are no preservatives and I only use good oils [such as olive oil]. It satisfies a lot of people’s needs.”

The restaurant has a lunch and dinner menu. The lunch menu consists of a buffet option for $9.95, sandwiches and gyros for $7.95, soups for $4.95 and salads for around $10. The gyros are the most popular lunch item.

There are two different options, the gyro tahini which consists of lightly seasoned beef and lamb meat with tomatoes, sesame seed, lemon and garlic. The other option, gyros tsatziki, consists of the beef and lamb meat with tomatoes, lettuce, yogurt, cucumber and garlic sauce.

“I love the gyro with tahini because they use simple and good quality ingredients,” said senior Eric Mahaney.

Like the lunch menu, the dinner menu also includes sandwiches, gyros, soups and salads but adds the dinner combination plates for around $15. These plates consist of a variety of options including gyros, hummus, falafel and babajanuj.

“I love all of the food,” Azar said. “A combination plate along with a Greek salad is great.”

The menu provides vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, also.

Along with homemade, quality food, Azar’s also provides a belly dancing show on Friday nights from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. where an experienced dancer comes in and performs live traditional belly dances.

“We decided to do it for a cultural experience,” Azar said. “It’s a dinner and a show and it’s all authentic.”

Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Contact Elise Van Dam at

Greek and Hebrew Words: Your Inspiration

Do you ever have an idea or concept in your head that simply cannot be put into words? Are you looking for inspiration for a new tattoo, or perhaps a name for your new club, ministry or nonprofit organization?

Are you a fan of using archaic words or objects because they transcend the phoniness of our modern age?

It sounds like you could benefit from developing a shallow but workable vocabulary of Hebrew and Greek words. Let me take a minute to explain why this is a good idea.

Ancient languages are obscure, and obscurity is in. Forget tattoos with Chinese letters and symbols, those went out of style around 2003. Hebrew and Greek? They are the next big thing.

I’m telling you this in confidence so that you can hop on the cool-train before it even leaves the station. Why? Because I like you.

Need a name for your church retreat? Flip through a New Testament Greek Lexicon, flap your fine finger on any one line, and you got yourself a new name!

Example: “Come join us on the Honeydale Community PRAUTES church retreat in November. PRAUTES is the Greek word for spirit, because we’re all spirits, you know?”

The beauty of using an ancient language for your new tattoo or organization name is that not only are the words deep, Biblical and smart-sounding, they are also aesthetically beautiful.

They just look SO COOL! You don’t need a huge tattoo, just get the Hebrew word “hesed,” (which means steadfast love), on the inside of your forearm. Your peers will be entranced.

Besides, if you are a theology major, it is pretty much a requirement that you get a tattoo in either Greek or Hebrew, for New and Old Testament scholars respectively. That’s how we know you are legit, that you really know your stuff.

One final way these words are useful is in the way they help us avoid chronological snobbery, or the false notion that our thinking and way of life are getting better and better as time goes on.

The truth is that we would all be better off if we could just go back to the good old days when things were perfect like in the days of the early church.

Selective use of Greek and Hebrew words ripped out of their Biblical context is a great way to tap into the inherent goodness of old things.

So get out there, you! Start planning out that ministry retreat and sketching your next tattoo idea. Shalom and agape. E pluribus unum. Jonny Strain Columnist

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