The baba ghanoush at Mazra, a San Bruno restaurant that is expanding to Redwood City. (Courtesy Mazra)
By Kate Bradshaw
Mazra, a Mediterranean restaurant in San Bruno started by two brothers that grew out of their father's former grocery store, is well on its way to opening a new location in Redwood City.
The downtown restaurant at 2021 Broadway is expected to open sometime in June or July, says chef and owner Saif Makableh. He runs the restaurant with his brother Jordan, who is a managing partner and focuses on front-of-house matters and the restaurant's online presence.
Mazra, which means "garden" in Arabic, used to be a grocery store in San Bruno. Makableh says that in 2014, he moved to Australia and worked in a few Lebanese restaurants before returning. He took over the family grocery store's deli section to begin offering his cuisine, and before long, he had expanded his menu, drawn in a crowd and ultimately converted the entire grocery store into a restaurant.
"My family and I have always been in the food business," he says.
While the restaurant offers traditional kebab, shawarma, and rotisserie options with chicken, beef, lamb and seafood, it also has also been expanding its vegan and vegetarian options, from an oyster mushroom kebab that's so convincing that vegetarian customers regularly try to return it because they think it's chicken to grilled cauliflower dishes. They're also working on expanding their seafood menu and are looking to bring in different types of fish that people aren't as familiar with, he says.
They're looking forward to the Redwood City weather – the city's slogan is "climate best by government test" – and are installing a skylight at the new location to add natural lighting. They're also building out a patio for outdoor dining.
One of the biggest parts of the work to open the new location is building a kebab grill, Makableh says. The 14-foot grill uses solid fuel, mesquite, and because of that the restaurant needs to adhere to different fire safety regulations and environmental laws than it would for gas appliances. That alone is expected to result in a two or three-month delay in opening, but that's not unexpected, he says.
Between bigger-name restaurants like Vesta and Zareen's, Makableh says he's excited to be joining a growing downtown area.
"I really think Redwood City's downtown Broadway is going to have a lot of other big names start to join in," he says. "We thought we'd caught Redwood City before everyone realizes how perfect it is."
When the new restaurant opens, the next step will be to close the San Bruno location for renovations aimed at making it more accommodating for a larger amount of customers. He wants the renovation to make it easier to pick up to-go orders and be more organized. The grilling will also be brought indoors, he adds.
Mazra, 2021 Broadway, Redwood City; 650-225-9027, Instagram: @eatmazra.