Having opened 15 restaurants in Mexico, Syrian-French owner Nino Aidi is bringing his business to the United States with his new steak and seafood restaurant: 5 Palms.

“The population is very diversified between Latin, older people and young students,” said Aidi.  “It’s a good market to try out.”

The restaurant is located at 3500 E. Sunrise Dr. where the well-known Café Terra Cotta Restaurant was.  Café Terra Cotta opened in 1986 and served southwestern food to the Tucson community until closing in 2009.  

The building is now under reconstruction as the once-southwestern restaurant turns into a fish and steakhouse restaurant.

Aidi never planned on becoming a restaurant owner. Although he attended college, Aidi learned nothing about what it takes to run a restaurant. He is not the only owner of a business as he comes from a family of hotel owners who live in Europe and the Middle East.  

“I learned everything the hard way. Basically, not with school, not with a degree, not anything,” said Aidi. “Some ideas worked and some did not work.”

The thought of opening a restaurant started when he was in Mexico. He visited with some friends and eventually opened his first restaurant called La Beheme.  Aidi went on to open 15 more restaurants in Mexico.  

His decision to move to the United States was because of the market.

“I made my experiment in Mexico and it worked very well.  I always wanted a U.S. market. It is still not perfect yet, but I hope it will be one day,” said Aidi.  “It’s about time to start this concept here.”

The concept that Aidi refers to is the idea of having a restaurant that uses wine to sell the food not food to sell the wine.  The 5 Palms restaurant will have a wine store downstairs, which will serve as a separate entryway from the main entrance on the outside of the building.  Also included in Aidi’s restaurant concept are a formal dining area, formal bar, a casual bar and grill upstairs and banquet rooms.  

“We want to have the best service and quality,” said Aidi. “The atmosphere is very important and we don’t want regular customers to get bored.  By serving a different menu every day, we attract more people.”

The 5 Palms Restaurant is set to open sometime in late February. The exact opening date has not been set.

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