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Photo by Houston Press
A Longtime Galleria hub for hookah and Middle Eastern feasting, Mary'z Lebanese Restaurant, 5825 Richmond, burned to the ground on Saturday, September 9. A concerned customer posted on the restaurant's Facebook page, prompting the restaurant to announce its intention to rebuild:
No one got hurt, and we will rebuild and come back stronger than ever if God's willing... we can't wait; it's going to happen in no time.
The Houston Press reached out to Jimy Fakhoury, the son of Mary'z owners, Samir and Mary Fakhoury, and who runs the restaurant with his family. He was actually in Beirut over the weekend when his alarm company called, alerting him to the situation at hand.
"Sometimes my dad would open and forget to fix the alarm, but this time it was too early, about 7:38 a.m., and nobody goes there at that time," Fakhoury said. "I was looking at a few of the cameras [in the restaurant] and they were foggy. I told the alarm company to please call the police because I thought there was a fire. I was the first one to find out and I was thousands of miles away."
Fakhoury said that the family had closed down around 2 a.m. the night before as usual, and he does not expect foul play, but more likely an electrical short that caused the fire, though police are still investigating at this time.
While he was on the phone with his alarm company, an employee from the pub across the street, which opens early to air European sports games, contacted Fakhoury on Facebook and told him, "Oh my God, there is a fire." Fakhoury immediately called his brother, who was still asleep but was able to run over to the restaurant. Not that much, if anything, could be done.
"It's weird when you survive a hurricane, and you get killed by a fire," Fakhoury says of the devastation. The restaurant suffered no damage in Harvey, though the road flooded a bit. But as of now, the insurance investigation called the eatery a "tear down" with a ceiling that's collapsing and fire damage from the patio all the way to the kitchen. An ABC13 reporter, Miya Shay, posted a picture of the damage on Twitter.
Though the family doesn't own the property, Fakhoury says they are very close with the landlord and plan to rebuild the restaurant. "We have to rebuild. We've been leasing this location for over 12 years, and our landlord is like family. I have no idea how long it will take. Once you start construction, the permits, the electrical, the plumbing, building, drawings, all that takes time. I'm hoping three to five months, but I don't know."
Even still, Fakhoury remains positive about the situation. "It could have been worse. Thank God nobody got hurt."
The family also operates Mary'z Lebanese at 4500 Washington, which is open for regular business.