Amir Mediterranean Food & Bakery opened just a few months ago in downtown Mission, and it’s developed a following with a base of regular customers.
The bakery/restaurant, at 5239 Johnson Drive, opened in late April for dinner only at first, until owner Luay Kayyali began hearing demands from customers that the food stop stay open for lunch as well.
The only hang-up for the fast-growing bakery/restaurant: A “huge” labor shortage.
“We’re afraid to see more customers right now, to be honest with you, because we don’t have enough help,” he said.
Kayyali said he decided to open the bakery/restaurant in downtown Mission because he thought Mission — plus the entire KC metro area and even all of Kansas — needs this type of restaurant, serving cheap, delicious and authentic Mediterranean food.
“Actually, I like this area itself: The improvements, the city, what they did to the area,” Kayyali said of Mission’s recent overhaul of Johnson Drive pavement and sidewalk construction. “This area is a really nice area. I just want to thank them for the good work.”
As the restaurant’s expert chef, Kayyali creates his food from family recipes back home in Jordan. He emigrated in 1988, first settling in California before he opened a restaurant in Boise, Idaho, eventually moving to Kansas City.
“I was calling my sisters back home, asking them about ingredients and recipes, how you do this, how you do that — over-the-phone things,” Kayyali said.
As a single parent, he hopes to grow the bakery/restaurant so he can provide for his children. Plus, he loves cooking.
“My specialty is the bakery,” he said. “We have the best gyro.”
Entrees are $3.50 each, including arrayes, zattar, and a variety of baked pies filled with meat, vegetables, eggs and/or cheese. Side dishes are $7 each, including hummus, baba ghanouj and beans. The priciest item is the gyro plate, which costs $10.
“Majority of them (the customers), they say the food is so delicious and so cheap; how come it’s so delicious and cheap?” he said. “My answer is: ‘I’d love to see you here every day if I can, so I have to give you more than one reason.’”
Kayyali said the baked goods are especially popular; in fact, he rarely needs to explain the menu, because most of his customers already know and love Mediterranean food. Nonetheless, he’d rather be up front greeting customers and acquainting them with the menu rather than preparing meals in the kitchen.
“It’s nice that people who come here, they know about this food, and that’s why they’re here,” he said. “I’ve asked if they want me to explain; they all say, ‘We [already] know.’”
The bakery/restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. every day of the week. Kayyali hopes to stay open until at least midnight. In fact, his shop in Idaho would stay open until 2 a.m., and customers would often stay until 5 a.m.
“Many customers have been asking if we’d be open even late,” he said, adding that he sometimes runs out of food and has to close early. “In Idaho, we used to close at 2 a.m. There is a special crowd who comes after 10 at night.”