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Three Brothers Bringing Breakfast, Lunch to Fresno by Way of Lebanon

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The Nassar brothers, Badih (right), Robby (center right), and Roy (center left) are opening Zaatar Euro Bistro in northeast Fresno. Also pictured is their sister, Reeta. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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When the three Nassar brothers found the location for their new restaurant at Shepherd Avenue and Champlain Drive, they talked with the landlord about what the area needed.

Considering eldest brother Badih’s extensive restaurant background with Lebanese and French cuisine, there were many possibilities. So, when the property owner said the center needed more breakfast, Badih agreed.

“When they said we need to make it a breakfast place, we said that’s, that’s it,” Badih said. “And we start thinking — we’re going to do international breakfast and lunch. We’re going to be serving American, Lebanese, and French cuisine with a twist from here and there.”

The four Nassar siblings are, from right to left, Reeta, Roy, Robby, and Badih. (Special to GV Wire)

Thyme, Sumac, and Sesame Building Blocks of Mediterranean Breakfast

When Zaatar Euro Bistro opens toward the end of January, the Nassar brothers will showcase what people are eating for breakfast along the Mediterranean or in Europe. One of the most popular dishes in Lebanon is the restaurant’s namesake.

Za’atar is a spice blend as well as a dish. Thyme, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds are poured liberally onto flatbread and baked. While the flatbread is often eaten by itself, that is just the beginning.

“Add za’atar and cheese, it makes it very delicious,” Robby, the middle brother, said. “That is a wrap we do.”

A well-known Lebanese staple is a spread of chickpeas, yogurt, lemon, olive oil, and garlic called fatteh. Chicken can be added or pine nuts.

Fatteh topped with fried cashews. (Special to GV Wire)

On the sweeter side, almost a dessert, knafeh is a pastry of semolina and cheese with sugar syrup on top.

The Nassar brothers didn’t want to leave out western breakfasts . So eggs, omelets, and pancakes will be available. They will also serve a variety of French toast and filled croissants.

And, Robby will bake French and American cakes.

They received their liquor license, allowing them to serve mimosas or other cocktails. Baristas will also prepare American, Lebanese, and Turkish coffees.

Eventually, they will add dinner.

The sweet knafeh, a pastry of semolina and cheese, can be a dessert or a breakfast. (Special to GV Wire)

Each Brother Brings Something Unique to the Table

The youngest brother, Roy, came to Fresno first. His entertainment passion led him to open Switch Nightclub seven years ago, Badih said.

Before Badih came to Fresno in 2020, he operated two restaurants in Lebanon and one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Badih noticed the large size of the kitchen at Switch and started his catering company, Roasted Garlic Co., cooking out of the nightclub.

Robby, a philosophy instructor, has a background in dough and baking. He came to the U.S. in 2021.

Thyme is a staple in Lebanese cuisine, Badih said. The strong flavor and smell are prevalent throughout the Mediterranean country’s cooking.

The relationship between za’atar and thyme summed up their goal of bringing people together, Badih said. Their slogan is “thyme together.”

” ‘Thyme together’ because it’s going to be a very nice place to hang out. We have two patios, covered and not covered. The food is a blend of different cuisine,” Badih said.

Hummus with steak and pine nuts. (Special to GV Wire)

Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.