OLEAN — Mian Rafi is walking his new eatery with a non-public contact.
During one of the first days of Rafi’s Food Hub being open, he in my opinion greeted clients as they walked inner from West State Street, as well as requested a few seated clients for their thoughts on the menu.
He even suddenly walked faraway from an interview with the Olean Times Herald to open the door for a patron who changed into on crutches.
They’re the kind of things he’s been unable to do the remaining eight months given that a hearth destroyed his final culinary endeavor, a cell food cart.
“I missed it. I missed it because I love the eating place enterprise, love people, like to engage humans,” said Rafi, pausing a second before including, “I love hungry people.”
The longtime figure inside the town’s restaurant scene and Rafi own family patriarch this week officially opened Rafi’s Food Hub, which prides itself on serving American and Mediterranean dishes — from cheeseburgers to chicken curry — at cheap fees in a quick-informal putting.
It’s been months inside the making after the former Rafi’s Food Cart stuck fireplace again in December. The blaze left the cart, which become placed in the East State Wine and Spirits automobile parking space, a total loss and even broken a neighboring home.
It’s believed to have been due to the cart’s propane tank.
“After that I become just debating: Would I go together with a meals truck or open a restaurant?” Rafi said Friday afternoon at Rafi’s Food Hub. “I simply were given scared from propane. I didn’t want to cope with it.”
Rafi, sixty three, said he then discovered area available at the previous Olean Lock and Key locksmith storefront at 1112 W. State St., adjacent to the Press Box bar, and has been getting it ready for the reason that February. The eatery officially opened Wednesday.
Like Rafi’s Food Cart before it, Rafi’s Food Hub serves similar dishes but in a miles special style than Rafi’s children’s many restaurants at some point of the city. His son Adnan owns Mirchi Bar-N-Grill, his other two sons Ashi and Hus run Brothers Bistro, even as his daughter Amber Rafi-Sultan and son-in-regulation Aamir Sultan function Rafi’s Platter.
“We got a few best and clean seating, too — you’re just going to get the food in a Styrofoam box as a substitute,” Rafi stated.
Rafi likes to say the entirety on the menu — from the jumbo hotdog to the hen marsala — is $10 or fewer. Noting Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food can regularly be highly-priced, Rafi stated he’s seeking to make sure everybody can find the money for to consume his eating place.
“Here, two people can consume for $20,” he said. “Family of four can come right here and consume for $30.”
Rafi’s Food Hub can even provide catering offerings.
“I’ve been doing catering all my lifestyles,” Rafi said. “I’ve catered a variety of big events for about 2,000 people. I traveled thru five states catering.”
Rafi, a Pakistan local, arrived within the U.S. In 1981 and came to Olean in 1985. His first task changed into on the Old Library Restaurant. He subsequently opened his personal eating place on North Barry Street, Mian Rafi’s International Cuisine, which changed into open until 2006.
Rafi is the self-defined “first chef to carry foreign food to Olean,” pronouncing that before him nobody else became serving dishes like curry, souvlaki or gyro inside the city.
“I had to train my customers the way to eat Pakistani meals,” he recalled. “We could serve Pakistani food and they might simply devour it with a fork. Bread might just take a seat there. Rice might just take a seat there. Our food, you’re supposed to devour with the bread or rice.”
After Mian Rafi’s International Cuisine, Rafi lower back to Pakistan, where he remarried. He and his wife, Huma Rafi, have two daughters: Mariam, eight, and Rafia, 4. He said raising his youngest kids gives him “cause.”
Despite his many travels, Rafi considers Olean his hometown, noting it’s “been so correct” to him.
“I appreciate from the lowest of my coronary heart Olean and the network for helping me for the ultimate almost 35 years,” he stated.