Restaurant seeks to make comeback with new owners

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Remodeling continues at the site of the original La Shish restaurant in east Dearborn. The owner, Carmel Halloun, also owns restaurants in Sterling Heights and Flint.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A local restaurant chain that closed because of its previous owner’s legal troubles soon may return.

Carmel Halloun, owner of Taboon restaurants in Flint and Sterling Heights, said Jan. 14 that he has purchased the rights to the La Shish name and is reopening the original location at 12918 Michigan Ave.

Halloun, in addition to the $250,000 cost for the name and the building, also bought the recipes over the course of a couple of years from the former restaurant for $60,000. The food will be the same quality as the original La Shish, he said.

Halloun and Fay Beydoun, executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, say response to the announcement has been positive, and that people are looking forward to the chain’s return.

“People keep asking me, ‘When are you going to open?’” Halloun said.

He has hired employees from the original La Shish at Taboon’s.

Halloun cited familiarity as his reason for bringing back the La Shish name instead of just expanding the Taboon chain.

“I grew up on the name,” Halloun said, adding that he has nothing to do with the previous owner, Talil Chahine.

Chahine is believed to be hiding out in Lebanon after being charged with tax evasion. His son, Khalil Talal Chahine, was sentenced in 2005 for second-degree murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and felony firearms possession. Elfat El Aour, Chahine’s wife, pleaded guilty in 2006 to tax evasion.

Despite the stigma, Halloun said there is no hesitation on opening a new restaurant. Banking on the fact that people will remember the food more than the scandal, he is optimistic that the reopening will be a success.

“Maybe they’ll forget about what happened before and give it a chance,” Halloun said.

The new La Shish will start out with one restaurant, and then, depending on its success, Halloun said will look at expansion, but he did not say where.

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