Arched pathways and century-old stone structures fill the beautiful city known as Sidon in the south of Lebanon. Set on the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient city’s beauty and mystery is made up of an eclectic mix of past and present. As generations have come and gone, the bones of a majestic sea castle still decorate the horizon, the mini-markets and shops still sell goods throughout winding narrow pathways, and the smell of citrus orchards still waves through fields as the city bustles with laughter and commotion.
With this as inspiration, Sidon Lebanese Grille & Bakery was designed with a contemporary twist on the traditional. Illuminated spaces, repurposed materials and elegant finishes make the fast-casual concept stand out and create a unique experience and ambience, while symbolizing the city.
Guests are greeted with an open kitchen concept, allowing them to observe and admire as authentic Lebanese dishes are prepared. A stone-fire oven surrounded by red brick swallows piece of dough and expels pieces of hot, puffy pita bread. Around the cashier area is salvaged wood with subtly decorative blue and red hues, topped with light marble countertops. The overall color palette includes light blues, yellows and creams in an attempt to invite patrons in to enjoy the comfortable, laid-back culture.
Five high-top bistro tables embellished with pendant lighting seat guests waiting for their orders or perusing menus, featuring classics like hommus, tabbouleh, shawarma, shish tawook, and more adventurous items like sujuk, kibbie nayyeh and shakshooka.
On one wall, a portrait of the owner’s late father hangs as a reminder of who they are and where they came from, and his lasting influence in the Hariri family’s lives. Two dining areas are separated by a wall adorned with photos of fruit markets and a panoramic view of the landmark known as Khan-al Franj, giving a nod to the history and authenticity of Sidon. Inside, a large fireplace covered in light brick serves as a focal point, welcoming guests in for warmth, delicious food and good conversation, resonating with traditional Lebanese hospitality. Architectural elements such as exposed beam ceilings and black vents, and drop-ceiling lighting provide a rustic chic atmosphere.
A private banquet room is separated by floor-to-ceiling sliding reclaimed barn wood doors that serve as both function and adornment. Designed to accommodate between 25-30 people, it hosts family dinners, business meetings, birthday parties, bridal showers and other events.
Sidon creates a dining experience that is exotic yet familiar, glamorous but not intimidating. Lebanese cuisine is anything but ordinary, flavors of garlic, lemon and potent oil please almost any palette. What Sidon hopes to accomplish with each meal is fortify guests with both culture and culinary art, so they walk away feeling like they had more than a taste of the food, but the city itself.
Interior designer Erika Escue, of SQ Design, helped bring the vision into reality. www.sqdesign.org. 419-346-1088. firstname.lastname@example.org.