Life after Talal Chahine
Hingst doesn't spell it out-he doesn't have to. "The management" is a reference to Talal Chahine, founder of the La Shish restaurant chain, who fled to Lebanon three years ago amid charges of tax evasion and funneling money to terrorists. Now the Detroit-based Palm Palace chain wants to take the focus off Chahine and shine it on the food, which was always fabulous. Hingst says the quality of the food won't change, in large part because former La Shish executive chef Jamil Eid is the executive chef for Palm Palace. "He was the brains behind the food [at La Shish]. If you look around, he's trained just about every Mediterranean chef in the country. He's been doing this for fifty years." (For a review of the food, see Bix Engel's blog.)
This is the third Palm Palace, and so far they're all in former La Shish locations. Hingst says Palm Palace "negotiated with the state to buy the assets of the old La Shish when the State of Michigan took it over. But each site had to be negotiated separately with a variety of landlords. Some were franchised, some were corporately owned."
If you were a fan of La Shish and you visit a Palm Palace, odds are you'll see a familiar face or two. "Some personnel have been kept on," says Hingst. "They've Čtalked to some of the store managers and . . . gave everybody an opportunity to hire on."