By Ashourina Slewo
Sahara Restaurant and Grill’s decades long history has a humble beginning on the corner of 9 Mile and Woodward in Ferndale. Since the inception of their first location, co-owners Zeana and Saad Attisha – who are also husband and wife – have worked to expand.
Several expansions took place at their second location, where several family members and even Saad’s parents worked alongside him. A West Bloomfield location was also opened, but closed only four years later. A Sterling Heights location came in 2004 and a Farmington Hills location in 2006.
“He opened more restaurants as the desire for more locations grew,” Zeana said.
It was in 2016 that the pair built their latest location in Sterling Heights. This location was built with the idea of drawing in bigger crowds. “It was built to accommodate banquet parties and corporate events, with a full dining area and 4-Season patio,” said Zeana.
This location brings an ambiance unlike that of the current Oak Park location. From the patio to each unique chandelier in the dining area, this restaurant lends itself to an evening of fine authentic dining. This in part due to Zeana’s design as she had a hand in the décor. “Much of the décor and flooring was imported from overseas,” she explained.
Today, the duo owns Sahara Restaurant & Grill in Oak Park, Sahara Restaurant & Banquet Center in Sterling Heights and Sahara Market & Bakery in Warren. With their eyes on a fourth location in District Detroit along Columbia Street.
“Oak Park remains popular because it’s located in the center, between the East and West side,” explained Zeana.
Olympia Development of Michigan announced the addition of the restaurant to Columbia Street late last month. “Olympia entertainment proposed a 3rd Sahara in the District Detroit near the new amazing Little Caesar’s Arena,” said Zeana. “We are currently developing the plans and menu.”
Detroiters will be able to enjoy the newest addition next year. “We will announce our grand opening in Detroit when we get closer to the ribbon cutting ceremony,” explained Zeana.
The new restaurant menu will include classic Sahara favorites in addition to new menu items that will satisfy the increasing desire for “fresh and healthy food options”. On this new farm to table menu, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options will be available.
“Sahara will bring to the new restaurant in District Detroit, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food and favorites that many people are looking forward to,” said Zeana. “It will be an exciting new dining destination for people to visit when they come to downtown Detroit. The favorite food items will of course still be on the menu, but with the introduction of some new items.”
With their new demographic in mind, the Attisha’s are working to design the new location and cater their menu to their new audience. During the warmer months, patrons will be able to dine outdoors.
“Each Sahara is unique to its demographic location” explained Zeana. “We are designing the Sahara in District Detroit in a way that we feel people coming to downtown would like to see and the options that they will like. Columbia Street will be an exciting place to go.”
As the community favorite makes its way downtown, the Attisha’s have the same hope for this location as they have had for all other locations: to satisfy patrons.
“Our hope for Sahara in the District Detroit is to still be able to offer patrons amazing food and good service and a beautiful Mediterranean location with a well-established history in the metro Detroit area,” explained Zeana.
With the new restaurant slowly on its way to fruition, the Attisha’s are optimistic and excited to be a part of the bustling new developments in downtown Detroit.
“The District Detroit is well on its way to offering so many amenities for so many people to be attracted to when coming down to the Detroit area,” said Zeana. “It’s fun for friends and families, the stadiums and arenas with all their events going on all year are sure to be a welcoming place to go. Sahara Restaurant is excited to be a part of it all.”