Hedary's Family of Restaurants
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From Beirut to Fort Worth
As a little boy in Beirut, Lebanon, Antoine Hedary would come to watch his grandmother cook. It fascinated him to see her knead bread, chop vegetables, and take a pinch of this and a little of that from mysterious little jars.
As often happens when children hang around adults too long, he was put to work. But not by his grandmother. She had long since taught Antoine’s father to cook. It was he who passed on the family recipes and Lebanese cookery to the boy.
Antoine was an accomplished chef by the time he joined the Lebanese Army in 1947. Though he wasn’t an army cook, he couldn’t stay out of the kitchen. The special little meals he fixed while off-duty quickly caught the attention of the officers. They immediately appropriated Antoine the cook for them.
Antoine soon married Leila, a lovely Armenian girl, and together they produced nine healthy children. The children come in later in the story.
After leaving the Army, Antoine and his family opened up their first restaurant on a hillside in Beirut. In a short time, the Hedary family owned and operated two restaurants. Both flourished.
But Lebanon’s civil war forced Antoine and Leila to leave their country for a home where their children’s education, interrupted for two years by the war, would not include how to use an M-16 rifle.
Ironically then, it was the strife of a war that brought Fort Worth the good fortune of having an authentic Lebanese restaurant.
This is not the first Hedary restaurant in Fort Worth. Many customers remember Hedary’s Lebanese Pizza. “Pizza” because they thought the word meant restaurant. Soon the “Pizza” made the newspapers and magazine Dining Out columns, and the customers flocked. Loving Fort Worth, but homesick nonetheless, the Hedarys reluctantly sold the restaurant and flew back to Lebanon. They found, however, the schools still disrupted and the people still shooting.
They began to think about Fort Worth. They thought about the American education. After just 28 days, the family decided to come back and this time they would stay in Fort Worth for good. Upon returning, the Hedary family promptly opened another restaurant.
The year was 1976. The restaurant was to be called Hedary’s Lebanese Restaurant.
It was there that Antoine passed on his knowledge of Lebanese cuisine to his children, just as his grandfather had done so to him. And still to this day…. every sausage, sauce and pickle is made in the kitchen with the close instruction of a Hedary family member.