Nasir Latif left the local restaurant scene, but it never left him

Nasir Latif left the local restaurant scene, but it never left him.

"When you get it in your blood, you can't get rid of it," he said. "I miss the hospitality business. I miss the people."

Lavash will mark his return to the central Ohio restaurant industry. The store, which takes its name from the soft, Middle Eastern flatbread, is slated to open Oct. 1 at 2985 N. High St., Clintonville. It will occupy 2,000 square feet and will seat 50 inside.

Latif is best known for Firdous, which he founded in the early 1980s at High Street and Ninth Avenue. He went on to open three more restaurants of the same name before settling on a single location in the North Market. He sold it three years ago; it is still in operation.

"Fresh" is the byword for Lavash, from the halal meats to the vegetables. The new spot will offer charcoal-grilled kebabs, three styles of spit-roasted shawarma and a host of vegetarian options, including popular hummus, tabouleh and falafel.

"When I say Mediterranean, it's going to cover a lot of territory," he said.

In addition, there will be a fresh-juice bar and coffee drinks but no alcohol.

A pricing structure has not been set but most offerings likely will be in the $3 to $10 range, Latif said.

The plan is to be open lunch and dinner hours daily. He also hopes to offer delivery.

"There's no excuse not to eat and have my food on your table," he said.

Latif said he prides himself on customer service and always strives to make people happy. He likes to relay a story about a customer who brought in his family to the original location. Only the daughter, who wasn't familiar with the food, wasn't enjoying her meal. Latif observed her displeasure and instructed a cook to make a chicken kebab and some fries. Elated, the daughter pledged her support for Firdous and eventually would bring her own family to Latif's restaurants.

"I always put myself in other people's shoes," he said. "A happy customer tells 10. An unhappy customer tells 100."

This is one place where getting a raw deal is a good thing.

Brain Food , where none of the offerings will be cooked, soon will open at 2460 N. High St. in the University District.

Smoothies will be the thing at the new establishments, said Roni Wilson, who owns the place with her husband Brian. Both are vegans.

They said they chose the neighborhood, just north of Clintonville, because of the growing vegetarian and vegan population. That is reflected in such venues as Pattycake Vegan Bakery, Whole World restaurant and the Clintonville Community Market, where Brian Wilson once was an employee.

Mrs. Wilson said the restaurant will focus on fresh, organic and locally sourced (whenever possible) products.

The menu will offer such entrees as the raw "pasta," made of shredded vegetables topped with tomato salsa. There also will be desserts, salads, supplements and juices. Brain Food will have free Wi-Fi.

A target opening date has not been scheduled, Roni Wilson said. For more information, call 614-262-5900.


Jason's , 6880 N. High St., Worthington. The restaurant is the second by Jason Liu, who opened his flagship restaurant in Dublin four years ago. The menu is largely contemporary American but also draws from other global inspirations. The chef is Geoffrey Cassidy, who's in charge of the kitchens at both restaurants. Jason's is open daily for lunch and dinner. For more information, call 614-888-1818.

Vittoria , an upscale Italian restaurant at 10241 Sawmill Parkway, Powell. The chef is Nick Bedalli, formerly of DaVinci's. Vittoria is open six days a week, closed Sunday. Lunch and Sunday hours might be added at a later date, said general manager Michael Mastracci, formerly of Lindey's and Braddock's. For more information, call 614-791-8100.


Iacono's , 5925 Sawmill Road. A sign on the door said it's "officially closed."