GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Egyptian cuisine is coming to downtown Grand Rapids.
Taste of Cairo will be located in the Ledyard Building at 125 Ottawa Ave. NW. The space was previously home to Electric Hero, which closed last year.
“We looked at it and said it was perfect. And now here we are,” co-owner Dale Erdman said while visiting the site Monday.
Grand Rapids retail retention and attraction specialist Rich App says Taste of Cairo is the first Egyptian restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids that he’s aware of.
“It’s starting to feel global. Not just that we’re a growing city, but a growing global city,” App said Monday.
Taste of Cairo is owned and operated by Dale and Riham Erdman. The couple married in Alexandria, Egypt in 2013. That trip also marked the first time Dale stepped into a restaurant serving koshery.
“It’s like a street food. It’s very famous there and Egypt is very famous for it,” Riham Erdman said.
“As soon as we walked in the door, this light bulb went off and I told Riham, ‘We’ve got to bring this to Michigan,’” Dale Erdman said.
The couple brought their koshery concept to farmers markets in the mid-Michigan communities of Saginaw and Midland in 2016 and Davison the next year.
“We just kept getting more popular from there. People told us we should open a restaurant,” Dale Erdman said.
They did just that. Egyptian Koshery opened in Midland in September 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.
“It sure didn’t stop us,” Dale Erdman said.
Less than 18 months later, the couple set their sights on a second location in Grand Rapids.
“We liked the city. It’s the second largest city in Michigan and we wanted to put our restaurant in a city with walking traffic,” Dale Erdman said.
Taste of Cairo will feature an exclusively vegetarian and vegan menu. All the dishes are freshly made daily using recipes Riham’s family has passed down for generations. She says the menu will include spinach pie known as spanakopita, rice pudding, Turkish coffee, chai tea and vegan baklava that uses homemade syrup instead of honey.
“It’s unlike any other baklava,” Dale Erdman said.
The restaurant’s interior will also transport visitors to Egypt with papyrus on the walls, music playing directly from radio stations in Egypt and décor that pays homage to Egyptian architecture.
Renovations are underway in the space. If all goes well, Taste of Cairo will serve up its first dishes to guests in May with a grand opening in early June.
App says the restaurant is considering extending business hours after concerts, giving visitors a late night grab-and-go option where few are currently available.
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