By Amanda Yeager | Business Journal
Fikre Mariam Worku spent years as a social worker, first in Ethiopia and then as a resettlement manager for the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore. His wife, Eskedar Abawa, worked as an accountant. But the couple found themselves drawn to hospitality. Friends and coworkers raved about Abawa’s cooking and encouraged the two to open a restaurant of their own.
With Mimi’s Cuisine, a new Ethiopian restaurant at 34 S. Eutaw St. near the University of Maryland Medical Center, Abawa and Worku are finally making it happen.
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The couple also owns Jano, an adjacent lounge that they had initially hoped would be a venue to showcase the cuisine of their home country. But the business ended up becoming more of a nightlife spot, with hookah and DJs spinning music.
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At Mimi’s, they’ve created a warmer restaurant atmosphere, with brick walls, booth seating and electric lights that flicker like torches. Wood carvings and paintings from Ethiopia hang on the walls.
The eatery has American staples like wings, burgers and fried tilapia, but Abawa, the chef, is most enthusiastic about the Ethiopian fare she hopes to introduce to a broader audience.
“We really want Ethiopian food to be known,” she said. “It’s different, and people like it after they taste it.”
The menu features an even balance of vegetarian and meat-based entrees. Diners can try dishes like Kik Alicha — yellow split peas cooked in turmeric and ginger sauce — and Kitro, finely chopped beef blended with an herb butter and cardamom and served with cheese curds. Abawa loves to introduce new diners to her Yebeg tibs, cubes of lamb sautéed with onions, tomato, jalapeño and rosemary. Entrees are served with a side of injera, a spongy fermented flatbread.
To drink, there’s Ethiopian coffee and spice tea in addition to the regular list of soda and juice options.
Worku said Mimi’s Cuisine has been off to a slow start since it opened a few weeks ago. The restaurant’s debut was originally scheduled for earlier this year, but Covid-19 delayed those plans.
For now, the bulk of business has been through carryout and delivery orders, though the dining room is also open with capacity restrictions.
“People told us we are crazy because a lot of restaurants are closed right now,” Worku said, but “if people give us a chance to taste our food we know for a fact we will get good reviews.”
He and Abawa said they hope to find a following among nearby hospital workers and the downtown community. They’re offering a 10% discount to health care workers, first responders and neighborhood residents. A grand opening is in the works in the coming weeks.
They’ve already found a small fan base in some residents who have become regular customers.
“They say it’s the hidden place,” Worku said. “We are hopeful that we can make a difference here. There are some neighborhood people helping us a lot.”
Read from source Biz Journal