After selling his namesake bakery, Billy Bread, and moving to North Carolina in 2004, Billy Fallen recently returned to Richmond to help get his family's new restaurant, Aziza's, off the ground.
The 2110 E. Main St. eatery opened in late September, and it's named for Fallen's grandmother, whose love of cooking ignited his own interest in all things culinary. "My grandma and mom were always cooking when I was growing up," says the Hampton Roads native. His grandmother even owned a restaurant in Shockoe Bottom, the Henrico Inn, which specialized in home-cooked Lebanese specialties (her parents emigrated here from Lebanon).
Fallen seems to have inherited his grandmother's sense of epicurean entrepreneurship, too. After working in restaurants in Vermont, Boston and other parts of New England (he's a graduate of the Montpelier, Vt.-based New England Culinary Institute) and launching Billy Bread, Fallen has a sensible business plan for Aziza's. "We want to slowly grow so we don't overwhelm ourselves," Fallen explains. Currently, Aziza's serves lunch only, Monday through Friday. The menu includes soups, salads and sandwiches and also features some Lebanese dishes.
"My mom and I do all the cooking," Fallen says. He also pitches in with everything else — food service, bookkeeping and janitorial duties. Something he really wants to do is open the restaurant for dinner on Sunday and Monday nights, to appeal to people like himself who are in the restaurant business. He also plans to introduce weekend brunch.
Although he's always loved working with food, Fallen hasn't always harbored the same affection for the culinary world, with its long hours and fast pace, which is why Billy Bread was a welcome change of tempo. However, he notes, "I decided to get back into the restaurant business because [Aziza's] was a good opportunity to bring something unique to the area, as well as a chance to work with my family. Being able to control the pace and how the menu is designed helps reduce the level of stress and [improve] the flow of service."
For more information, call 344-1523.