Sitting together at a table in the dining area of Rezaz, Brian and Laura Smith talk about their lives as owners of a popular restaurant in Biltmore Village.
After extensive careers in food service, the couple purchased Rezaz from the original owner three years ago.
“It was a big jump,” says Laura.
“We were busy from the get-go,” she adds. “We had to build a new image.”
When the Smiths acquired the restaurant from its Iranian owner in 2015, the cuisine was largely Middle Eastern in flavor. Brian and Laura embarked on a transition to the present menu that features creative offerings of Mediterranean-style foods of Levant countries including Lebanon and Israel.
Popular items on the lunch menu at Rezaz include tabouli, hummus, Mediterranean Shrimp Kabob and Greek Village salad with dolma, feta cheese and olives with oregano dressing.
“At dinner we get more creative,” Laura says.
The fall dinner menu features Paella Valencia with seasoned chicken, shellfish and rice, Lebanese lamb shank and Grecian market fish with black Beluga lentils, broccolini and crab with egg-lemon sauce.
Side dishes included sautéed greens with preserved lemon, golden raisins and cashews, grilled asparagus with walnut and bacon crumble and goat cheese polenta with grilled local mushrooms.
A recent major change at Rezaz is the extensive renovation that took place at the restaurant this past spring. After months of planning and discussion with the owner of the building, a project to expand and open up the restaurant began.
The result is a spacious and attractively decorated space with deeply hued walls and Mediterranean style décor.
“We’ve had a good response,” says Brian of the restaurant’s new look.
“Everyone has loved the renovation,” Laura adds. “The renovation has allowed us to do what we do better.”
The private dining room at Rezaz also has been expanded and can now accommodate 50 people for events and parties.
“It’s important for us to create dining experiences for people sitting down with family and friends,” Laura says. “Our servers take care of you.”
Both Brian and Laura have solid experience in the restaurant business. Brian started working at a restaurant during his senior year in high school. After working at the Texas Roadhouse and becoming kitchen manager, Brian moved onto the Pomodoros Café where honed his skills as a chef.
After a few years, Brian became interested in working at Rezaz because of its favorable reputation.
“I took a pay cut to come here,” he says.
The transition was a successful one for Brian because the chef at Rezaz started talking with him about managing the kitchen after his arrival.
Also, Brian and Laura met at Rezaz when she started working there in 2011. And they were married a few years later.
When they learned of the opportunity to buy Rezaz, the Smiths were intrigued and decided to purchase it.
Even with their years of combined experience, the couple has found restaurant ownership challenging at times.
“It’s a lot more involved than we thought it was,” Brian says.
“We’re like the last line of defense,” he says.
If they are short-handed in either the kitchen or the dining area, both Brian and Laura can jump in and work.
“Brian and I are both very hands-on people,” Laura says.
After three years learning how to manage both the front and back of the house at Rezaz, the Smiths are now reaching out to the Asheville community.
They have participated in MANNA Food Bank’s Empty Bowls fundraiser and another for Asheville Habitat for Humanity.
Rezaz is at 28 Hendersonville Rd. in Biltmore Village. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Dinner is served Monday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to closing time, with a late night menu Thursday through Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mangia Hour is Monday through Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit the website at www.rezaz.com or call 828-277-1510.