Haddad and his wife Patricia opened a new restaurant last week, and he’s spending his two-week vacation from his regular job as a realtor, preparing food and getting the business established.
“We’re very grateful. People’s response has been overwhelming, in a good sense,” said Haddad. “We are surprised.”
Maple Cedar, which serves fish and chips, pizza, poutine and Lebanese food items, is located in the former Gerard’s Fish and Chips space on East River Road. The opportunity for the Haddads to open their own restaurant came when the owner of Gerard’s decided to close the business due to health reasons, said Haddad.
“He approached us in April, and we made the deal in May,” he said, adding that
they completed some renovations and painting, and three months since the idea first surfaced, their new restaurant was opened.
Originally planning to offer a similar menu to Gerard’s, they included chicken shawarma, and because of suggestions from customers, have added more Lebanese foods, such as falafel and hummus.
“We ended up with 10 Lebanese items on the menu,” said Patricia, an esthetician and hairdresser who was a stay-at-home mother before opening the restaurant.
She said everything on the menu is made fresh from scratch with their “secret touch.”
Fred said the Lebanese items on the menu are “basically what we eat. It’s the way we prepare food at home and eat it. We like to cook, we like to eat.”
He said on opening day they had a table full of food samples, and in two hours more than 300 people came in and tried the food. “Many people had never tried the food before, and now they’re regular customers. We are very happy.”
The Haddads help with the food preparation, along with their staff of three. They’re also looking to hire another employee.
Fred said employees and customers are treated like family “because this is the way I like to be treated.”
The Lebanese Canadians moved to Canada 12 years ago, becoming citizens in 2009. The name of their restaurant – Maple Cedar – reflects both their home country and their adopted country. Fred explains that maple comes from the Canadian flag, while cedar comes from the Lebanese flag. “It means a lot to me,” he said.