This post is also available in: Spanish
The wait is over! As of last Monday, July 13th at 4pm the doors of Shish Kabab Autovía were officially opened and dedicated to the memory of Don Elias and Doña Arnestina.
In an intimate blessing ceremony officiated by Father Víctor, the Giha family, together with close family and friends, inaugurated and officially opened the new establishment located right before the toll booth on the way to Punta Cana from La Romana. The ceremony closely resembled the one held 46 years ago to inaugurate Shish Kabab’s first establishment, which still stands tall as an iconic restaurant in La Romana.
Just one year after the passing of Mr. Elias Giha, founder of Shish Kabab and father of Juan Giha, the family decided to honor his memory by opening a new restaurant that maintains the true essence, character and flavor of the original establishment; that integrates traditions as much, if not more than the original Shish Kabab on the Francisco Castillo Marques Street; while at the same time incorporating a bit of innovation and hip environment that characterizes the new generation of Giha’s that are learning to run the restaurants just like their grandfather and father have taught them. On the “Shish Kabab Green” colored walls behind the bar, there is a special corner featuring the pottery and tea sets of the late Doña Arnestina Giha, while the pop music that gives life to the ambience is, as Elias “Eliita” Giha (youngest son of Juan and Yolanda) told me, “my way of injecting a little of our younger personalities”.
When we met with them to gather details about the new Shish Kabab Autovia, we also talked about how this new establishment was a reflection of their family traditions.
@cdcliving: Shish Kabab is famous for its quipes! Has the recipe changed in all these years?
@Juan Giha: The recipe is the same recipe that my mother used at the restaurant opening 46 years ago. Yolanda and I know the recipe well, and we hope that our kids will learn to make it soon.
@Yolanda Giha: One thing is the simple recipe, and something else is to figure out the little tricks and methods applied while making the recipe. We make tons of quipes! So the recipe is adjusted for big volumes. Even if you had our recipe, it might not taste JUST as it does here.
@cdcliving: Do you have some traditional family recipes that you intend to integrate onto the menu at the new Shish Kabab Autovía?
@Victoria Giha: Shish Kabab in La Romana has always closed on Mondays. Mondays are our days to bond as a family. Traditionally, we would head over to my grandparent’s home on Monday mornings and make breakfast together. There are specific breakfast recipes that are very much part of our family’s tradition. At Shish Kabab Autovía we will open at 8am every day… so while we have never served breakfast at our first restaurant, this establishment will give us the opportunity to share some of those traditional breakfast recipes with our clients. We want to innovate and do new things, but always in keeping with tradition.
@Yolanda: My late mother-in-law, Arnestina, loved a tea I used to make for her… so much so that we call it “Grandmother’s Tea”. I used to make this tea for her every day – a combination of leaves, spices and ginger. We want to honor her by serving this tea at Shish Kabab Autovía and we hope our guests will enjoy it as much as she used to.
@cdcliving: What would you say is the key to Shish Kabab’s success?
@Victoria: From Day 1, our clients referred us to their family and friends and that is still how we maintain a loyal set of clients. Sometimes I will be standing behind the counter and someone will come up to me and ask if I am the granddaughter of Don Elias and Doña Arnestina. When I reply that indeed I am, I am often told stories about how that person would come here during the first years of the restaurant being opened. Year after year, Shish Kabab remains open thanks to the families that always recommend and visit us.
@Yolanda: This is a family business. My mother and father in law were always here to greet guests. We have learned to keep that tradition and recognize its value. When people come here, they expect to see one of us and they even ask for us. Our clients feel that coming here and sharing a few minutes with us is part of what makes them feel at home.
@’Eliita’: Good food is always important, but part of the Shish Kabab experience is, as my mother said, making our guests feel at home. We try to share a bit of our family with every guest that visits us. This is where we pretty much live… our clients listen to the music we listen to and they eat the food that we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That makes us and our clients happy.
@Juan: We make sure that every single client leaves those doors with a smile on their face. The waiters know that it is unacceptable for someone to leave this restaurant and not be fully pleased with the food and service. It is their responsibility, and ours, to make sure everyone that comes here has a great experience. This business doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to our clients.
@cdcliving: This month commemorates a year since Don Elias’ passing. You are also opening a new restaurant. What do you think Don Elias would say if he were here today?
@Juan: My father’s greatest concern was the success of this business. Handing the business over to me was something that terrified him at first. He was nervous. As time went on he realized that I had learned a lot from him and that the restaurant was in good hands. A few years ago he told me that he thought the business was in better hands with me than it was with him, and him saying that put me at ease. My mother and father would be enjoying themselves very much if they were here, and I’m sure they are happy seeing all this from where they are now. The new Shish Kabab is dedicated to them… we want them to see that we are progressing and that we are doing well. My father is always going to be here and looking out for us and for Shish Kabab just as he always did.
Congratulations to the entire Giha family, we wish you much success with this new venture!
The following collection of images were taken during the official opening ceremony at Shish Kabab Autovia:
Shish Kabab La Romana
Where: #32 Castillo Marquez street, La Romana
Opening times: Daily 10am – 11pm, closed Mondays
Tel.: (809) 556-2737
Shish Kabab Autovia
Where: At the “Next” gas station on the Autovia de Coral (right before the first toll from La Romana to Punta Cana)
Cuisine: Arabic / Dominican
Opening times: Daily 8am – 10/11pm*
Tel.: (809) 556-2737