Carmel Magazine

CM Winter 2015 Final

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Page 59 of 211

Café Stravaganza Mar ks a Milestone SHORTCUTS BUSINESS T he restaurant business is a tough racket, especially in a market as competitive as Carmel. It's considered extraordinary for an eatery to mark a 10-year anniversary, but Café Stravaganza passed the quarter- century mark last year, and is still going strong. What's the secret to its longevity? That's easy: owner Harry Khani. Khani is a natural host. His wide-open smile, ready laugh and infectious warm spirit all add up to a great restaurateur. Clearly, he loves what he does. "My hobby is talking to my customers." That enthusiasm has kept regular customers coming back again and again—well, that and the con- sistently high quality of Café Stravaganza's menu selections. A native of Iran, Harry Khani came to the U.S. in 1974, settling for a time in Baton Rouge before taking an engineering position with the federal government in Sacramento. "My wife and I moved to Carmel when I retired," Khani recalls. "We ate at Café Stravaganza a few times and really enjoyed the atmosphere and the food." Like the famous Remington razor guy, he liked it so much he bought the company. The restaurant was found- ed in 1989 by Mr. Fuad Bahou. Bahou was an artist, and it is his colorful, inviting work that still adorns the walls of the space. "When we took over, we kept the artwork and the employees," Khani says. "There was no reason to start over." The menu is unchanged as well—an eclectic mix of Mediterranean-influenced dishes and American favorites—with some key additions such as Persian Eggplant dip, made from his wife Masheed's own recipe. His grandmother's Lamb Stew is also now on the menu as are Salmon Chardonnay and the wildly popular Curry Chicken. "If I took that off the menu, my customers would kill me," he laughs. Café Stravaganza enjoys a sophisticated clientele. "They're not meat- and-potatoes people," Khani observes. "They have high expectations, and we meet them." Café Stravaganza is located at 241 The Crossroads, Carmel. For informa- tion or reservations visit, or call 831/625-3733. —Michael Chatfield 58 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 5 Harry Khani sources local ingredients for his Café Stravaganza menu items, adding unique flavors with spices from exotic locations around the Mediterranean. The results speak for themselves: healthy, delectable dishes served with Khani's infectious humor, hospitality and good cheer. Photo: Kelli Uldall

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