Sterling HeightsMay 17, 2011
Liquor license transfer recommended for Ollie’s Lebanese Cuisine
By Cortney Casey
C & G Staff Writer
STERLING HEIGHTS — A vacant restaurant on Van Dyke that’s swapping Latin flair for Lebanese will be able to serve alcohol, pending final approval from the state.
Last month, City Council unanimously recommended the transfer of a Class C liquor license from New Warren Manner Inc. to Hojaij Makky Properties LLC for Ollie’s Lebanese Cuisine.
The new Middle Eastern eatery is setting up shop in the former Don Pablo’s Mexican Kitchen on Van Dyke, north of 14 Mile, and the owners, Ali Makky and Ali Hojaij, are transforming the building with extensive renovations.
“I am really glad that you’re taking care of the restaurant that was there, the remodeling,” said Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko. “We’re happy to have you here in our city.”
The structure spans about 8,000 square feet, with the capacity to accommodate about 235 people with a family dining area, a bar/lounge area and patio seating, said Makky.
The menu will encompass “a really good mixture of Arabic food,” including raw juices, fresh bread, salads, shwarma, kabobs and seafood, he said.
The liquor license also includes a dance/entertainment permit, which Makky said they plan to use to bring in singers and small bands on Saturday nights, and to host occasional dancing.
Makky and Hojaij, his brother-in-law, established the first Ollie’s about five years ago in Dearborn; the second, founded three years later, is in Brighton. For the last year, he and Hojaij have been busily overhauling the Sterling Heights site.
“Just wanted you to know that we’re very excited about getting this started and opening up, and we look forward to becoming members of the Sterling Heights business community,” Makky told council members.
Attorney Shamil Halabu, representing Hojaij Makky Properties, lobbied on the men’s behalf, calling them “very experienced restaurant people.”
“They run a first-class operation at every location they have,” he said. “I think it’s a location every member of the city will be proud to frequent.”
Sgt. James Belmonte of the Sterling Heights Police Department, who handles liquor license investigations, was equally enthusiastic in his praise for the duo.
“These gentlemen were awesome to deal with,” he said. “They’re prompt in their answers; they’re prompt in their paperwork. They know what they’re looking at; they know what they want. They intend to stay in touch with the Police Department and the city in the future to do the right thing down there, and I foresee no problems.”
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission technically has final say over awarding a license. As the license is a transfer, it does not affect Sterling Heights’ quota. According to City Clerk Walt Blessed, the city has a quota allocation of 83 on-premises liquor licenses and has issued 77, leaving six available.
Makky said May 11 that the city had forwarded the necessary paperwork to the MLCC, and he and Hojaij were just awaiting final approval on the license transfer from the state. He said they hope to open Ollie’s within a few weeks.
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