Byblos: Behind the Scenes

9 Feb

Byblos is located across the street from the Post Standard and around the corner from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Fady Khabbaz, Owner of Byblos Mediterranean Café

Native of Syracuse

On Byblos’ origins

Byblos is the Greek name of the ancient Phoenician city Gebal in what is now Lebanon.  It is believed by many to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  My father is from Beirut and my mother is from Zahle.  They moved from Lebanon to Australia, where I was born, before moving to Syracuse.  My parents are the chefs at Byblos.  My background is in marketing and research, so I spent a year researching before we opened.

All the pastries at Byblos are handmade daily by Fady's mother.

We looked at the Syracuse area and found that there wasn’t a restaurant in the area serving authentic Lebanese food.  We wanted to appeal to a diverse group in Syracuse.  We find a large part of our customer base is people who are seeking healthy, fresh food, as well as authentic food.

On how the menu at Byblos was created

When we were creating the menu, we put a lot of thought into what people would like and what we could do for lunch.  We are challenged to make homemade food with care in a timely manner to accommodate the lunch crowd.  Quality is our number one priority, so it’s a balance to prepare things quickly, while still maintaining the homemade touch.

The menu at Byblos features well-known dishes like falafel, as well as more traditional Lebanese delicacies.

We started with an extensive menu and planned to give the menu a year to see how it worked, thinking that everything might not stay on.  People have responded so well to the range of our menu that we will be adding new dishes soon.   We have a lot of truly authentic dishes that aren’t on the menu, but can be made to order if someone asks.  One example is the dish kibbeh nayeh, which is a raw lamb dish that is similar to steak tartare.  People that come in to ask for more traditional dishes are usually of Lebanese descent or have been exposed to Lebanese cuisine.

On Byblos’ authenticity

Byblos is the first authentic Lebanese café in Syracuse.  You would have to travel to Utica to find an authentic Lebanese restaurant with the same menu range as ours.  Ingredients are necessary to maintaining authenticity.  A lot of our ingredients come directly from Lebanon.  We have a connection to a supplier there and also get a lot of ingredients from Samir’s Imported Foods on East Genesee Street, as he has a connection in Lebanon, too.

Byblos' dishes feature authentic Lebanese herbs and spices.

Importing ingredients is expensive, but necessary for the dishes.  In the summer, we get a lot of ingredients from my grandmother’s garden.  Her yard in Syracuse has a huge garden where she grows a lot of the herbs and seasonings we use.  She travels to Lebanon once a year to visit her family and brings seeds back with her to plant in the garden.

Byblos Mediterranean Café is one of the 22 restaurants participating in AmeriCU Dining Week.  Visit the restaurant at 223 North Clinton Street (across the street from the Post Standard, around the corner from the Dinosaur,) call 478-3333 for information or reservations or visit www.byblossyr.com for more information.

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2 Responses to “Byblos: Behind the Scenes”

  1. Jon P February 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Great food. I am there/here right now.

  2. Danica February 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Enjoyed this post and learned a great deal! I can’t wait to visit this gem in Syracuse.

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