The new space, at the corner of Broad and 9th Street, features fourteen foot ceilings and nine foot tall windows which overlook artist Cole Phail’s remarkable new James Brown mural.
The original Laziza, in the Publix Shopping Center on Washington Road, is by and large defined by the ‘strip mall’ box it inhabits.
The new downtown Augusta location offers a much more creative pallet to work with. Owner Nader Khatib, acknowledging his design shortcomings, let professionals direct the renovations of the building.
What they have created is nothing short of stunning. The soaring ceiling above gives the location an air of being much larger than the roughly 3,500 square feet of space actually is.
Over the past ten years, Khatib has invested in creating a unique design element and style, which really shines in the hundred year old building.
Khatib is most happy with the ability to build the kitchen he has always wanted, not retrofitting someone else’s plan.
After two long years of work, Khatib is down to ordering all the small wares for the new location.
“My contractor is 99% sure he’ll be completely finished by October 1st. That’s when the construction will be complete. There’s more work to do after he is finished, so we’re saying we’ll be opening in the fall.”
Khatib, once frustrated with the pace of opening his new restaurant, is now thankful he only had the one business to contend with once COVID hit.
“There’s plusses and minuses. The delay actually worked to our benefit, I think. It was much better for us to not be dealing with two restaurants during the fallout of COVID. But we are ready to get open now,” Khatib said recently.
The additional time also gave him the chance to pause and work on his process and procedures, creating an operational template for future staff to follow.
Yet, now with the opening date on the horizon, he has a new challenge to contend with…finding employees. Staffing a restaurant is always a challenge, but with the current climate, it can cause some sleepless nights.
“We’re probably going to need 30-40 employees for downtown,” Khatib said. “We opened the original location with only six or seven staff members,” Khatib chuckled.
“I have a good crew in Evans, and I’ll probably move a few of them to Broad Street, but I don’t want to mess around with a good team to find help.”
“It has been very difficult. We’ve had help-wanted listings for a month just trying to get applications and we’ve not had a strong response at all. We’re not the only ones that are hurting for people,” Khatib stated. “It doesn’t help that everyone else is hiring at the same time.”
Laziza offers benefits, such as after three months, employees are able to tap into Laziza’s primary care plan with Evans Direct Primary Care. After a year, staffers begin receiving paid time off.
The family owned and operated Laziza, which Khatib runs along with his wife Lisa, is a great place to work. With an atmosphere of positivity and good cheer, the business has taken on the personality of the upbeat owners.
So, hiring like minded individuals is important to maintain the culture that has no doubt been a part of the success of the Mediterranean themed restaurant.
Downtown will be open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, for lunch and dinner. Khatib is also planning on expanding the restaurant’s delivery capability significantly downtown.
“I feel like downtown and North Augusta are going to be very receptive to us,” Khatib said.
901 Broad Street
To apply, email Nader directly at firstname.lastname@example.org