"Good?" and "Welcome." These are the only two words of English spoken by the mother of Chris Felefle, owner of the newly opened Petit Café Mediterranean Grill (1250 Eldridge, 281-496-7600). Since she is always greeted by big smiles from satisfied patrons, this is about all she needs to know.
Felefle (according to a co-worker, his nickname is "Falafel") came to Houston from Lebanon in 1990 and graduated from UH with a business degree. He's an area coach for a fast-food chain, but he recently took a leave of absence to help set up this new venture for his brother, sister and mother, who recently joined him in Houston.
"It was always a family plan to open a restaurant, and since my mother is in the kitchen, all our food is homemade and everything is prepared from scratch. Her rqaqat is a family favorite. It's phyllo dough filled with three different kinds of cheese," says Felefle. "Our tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush all have an authentic flavor and many people come in, compare them to those in other places and say we have the best."
A visit by the Houston Press confirmed this, and also found a particularly friendly and informed waitstaff in an intimate space. "We wanted a small place and to create a cozy atmosphere, where you would feel like you're eating in our house," says Felefle.
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So far, so good. "Things are crazy around here at lunch. They're a lot quieter for dinner," he says. "We're getting many repeat customers and that's a good sign." Indeed it is.