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Alex and George Rouche

Lebanese Street Food at State and Eisenhower

George and Alex Rouche have high hopes for their new business.

by Micheline Maynard

From the March, 2021 issue

Between them, George and Alex Rouche have plenty of experience cooking Middle Eastern dishes. Born in Lebanon, they and four of their five brothers emigrated to the United States along with their mother. They have worked at area places like the former La Shish restaurants around metropolitan Detroit and Ann Arbor's Palm Palace and Pita Pan Mediterranean Cuisine.

Now, they are getting a long-sought chance to work for themselves. In February, they opened Shawarma Shop next to the Shell station at State and Eisenhower, featuring classic Middle Eastern dishes that they learned to cook at home and in their restaurant jobs.

George knows the location well--he worked there when it was Pita Pan. He's more recently been executive chef for the deluxe Hotel Jackson in Jackson Hole, Wyoming but says, "I always had a dream to open my own place."

Alex says they made an offer on the space six months ago, but at the time, the gas station's owners hoped to land another tenant. When that deal fell through, the brothers were told in December that they could have the spot. They pooled family money and recruited Alex's daughter, Sarah Bacharouche, to help.

They're leading off the menu with eleven substantial sandwiches, each priced at $4.99. "You know, we are in the middle of a pandemic," says Alex. "That's why we've decided the price has to be reasonable."

Halal meat options include chicken and beef shawarma and shish kafta. For vegetarians and vegans, there are crispy house-made falafel, stuffed grape leaves with house-made hummus or baba ghanoush, and mujadara, green lentils cooked with caramelized onion and cracked wheat.

Once they get their bearings and the economy improves, the brothers think that Shawarma Shop could be the beginning of their own group of restaurants. "We're hoping so in the future," Alex says.

Shawarma Shop, 2993 S. State St., (734) 369-6552. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Sun.     (end of article)

[Originally published in March, 2021.]


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