, a Mediterranean-style eatery and the newest addition to Richfield’s restaurant scene, celebrated its official opening Friday morning, welcoming the public at 11 a.m. with a menu that features gyros, kabobs, falafel and shawarma.
Located near the intersection of Penn Avenue and West 66th Street in a building that formerly housed a Taco Bell, Aida bills itself as a family-friendly option which, though a step above fast food, remains significantly less expensive than sit-down restaurants. Customers at Aida may choose to get their meal one of three ways—as a sandwich, salad or “Mediterranean plate”—and are given a full complement of meats, toppings and sauces to choose from when ordering. A kids’ menu is available, as are a variety of classic Mediterranean desserts including baklava and Egyptian basboosa,
“It should be easy for any family to go out after work and find healthy, quality food,” said co-owner Ahmed Mohamed, explaining the reason he and wife Amy decided to venture into the restaurant business. Ahmed and Amy both have food industry experience. Ahmed worked at a restaurant for several years after immigrating to the United States from Egypt in 1996, while Amy’s family owned a restaurant when she was growing up. Aida marks the couple’s first foray into the business as owners however.
“We’ve always kind of talked about doing a restaurant, something like this, and when this location became available, we just said, ‘Let’s go, let’s do it,’” Amy said.
A Whirlwind Opening
Over the last month-and-a-half the couple has seen a longtime dream come quickly to fruition. After giving notice of leave at her job on Jan. 15 of this year, Amy said that she and her husband have been doing virtually nothing but concentrating on getting Aida open since then. The building has for the most part been gutted; Egyptian art now hangs on the walls, and the front of the restaurant is covered with attractive small blue tile.
“Construction was forty-five days at the most,” said Ahmed, still somewhat amazed that the work had gotten done in time.
Aida is being run as a family business; Amy’s niece Nancy was working the cash register throughout the opening, while Ahmed's brother Mahmoud worked in the kitchen.
By 11:30 a.m. the restaurant’s parking lot was full and a line had formed at the front counter. After ordering, several Richfield residents expressed their excitement at seeing Aida moving into the neighborhood.
“I think it’ll be a good addition to the area, not just another chain,” said Tom Rublein, who was there with his wife, Susan.
“I like places with their own identity,” added Gordon Hanson, who was also at Aida’s opening, covering the event for Richfield’s Penn Central neighborhood group.
Aida will also operate a catering business. For more information, go to the restaurant’s website.
Aida is open Mon - Sat, 11 am - 10 pm; Sun, 11 am - 8 pm.