ASTORIA — A Middle Eastern eatery on Steinway Street reopened this week after four months of renovations and upgrades that its owner said will help cut down on waits for the food.
Duzan, located on Steinway Street at Astoria Boulevard, closed in July for the revamp and finally opened its doors again Monday.
Owner Hasan Diab said the renovation was to give the six-year-old casual eatery — which is known for its hummus, kabab and shawarma — a facelift, create more cooking space and speed up service for customers.
"People love the food," said Diab, 31. "They want to come here, but they remember the wait. They say, 'Oh I don’t want to go there and wait a half hour for a shawarma sandwich."
He can now serve up his shawarma quicker thanks to the addition of extra grills, which cooks the spinning meat at 500-degree temperatures. The makeover also created more prep space, added new outlets, plumbing and all new kitchen equipment, he said.
"It's a shawarma spot, but it's a five-star kitchen inside," Diab said.
The restaurant's seating area also got a new look with new booths, tables and chairs made with reclaimed wood and recycled leather. A large light-up sign hangs on the back wall with the words "Love & Shawarma."
"I don't regret the four months," Diab said, saying he had "so much fun," designing the new look. "I just missed my customers."
The renovations were originally expected to take only a few weeks, but was delayed after a small fire on the roof of the building in August ended up causing some water damage, Diab said.
"It was very missed," said Robert Reale, 40, who used to live nearby and said he would stop in at Duzan "almost every day" after work for one of the grilled chicken or chicken schnitzel sandwiches.
"It's exactly the taste that my mouth is craving for on a day-to-day basis, so flavorful and fresh, and the people here are great," he said.
Diab says the menu remained mostly the same, though he added a couple of new vegetarian sandwiches including the sabich — a fried eggplant sandwich with hummus, salad and boiled organic egg.
"My whole journey with food started with sandwiches," Diab said, adding that when he was young and broke he would fix sandwiches for friends using whatever ingredients he could find in his sparsely-stocked fridge.
He plans to soon start offering a rotating sandwich of the month, inspired by a different Mediterranean country.
"If a sandwich gets really popular we'll probably put it on the menu," he said.