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Tarbush Kitchen reopens nearly nine months after car crash damage


Hearty handshakes and greetings filled the room at Tarbush Kitchen just before noon on Friday as customers once again crossed the threshold of the long-closed restaurant

The Boise Bench Iraqi restaurant, located at the corner of Overland and Curtis Road, is once again open for business after a drunk driver crashed through the wall into Tarbush’s dining room at the beginning of February last year. The car wiped out the restaurant’s patio and smashed through the dining room, forcing the popular restaurant to close for repairs.

Owner Salem Vunyan and his wife Aseel run the restaurant together, serving up popular dishes like lamb kebabs, trays of baklava and baba ghnoush to loyal customers. On Friday, the Vunyan’s enthusiastically greeted returning customers and manned the kitchen to prepare their menu for visitors.

“It’s a nice feeling,” Salem Vunyan told BoiseDev about being open again. “I get to see my friends and customers again. I missed the people and the work.”

Upgrades after months of closure

While the restaurant was closed, the Vunyans made some changes.

They redid the restaurant’s patio with a taller, more permanent fence and built a door into the restaurant for customers to use to go out to the patio to eat. There are new tables for customers with umbrellas for shade and a fountain in the corner to add ambiance on the busy corner.

The interior of the restaurant is also filled with new decorations telling the story of old Baghdad, where the Vunyans came from after being resettled in Boise as refugees, and new middle eastern style booths decorated with bright colors and fringe.

The new patio at Tarbush Kitchen. Photo: Margaret Carmel/BoiseDev

The Vunyans previously were the long-time owners of another Bench Iraqi restaurant called The Goodness Land, which is located in a shopping center further west on Overland Road.

This reopening might be a joyous day, but the future is on Salem Vunyan’s mind. He said the owner of their building gave word that he wants to use it and remove the restaurant from the space next fall, so the next year will be spent looking for a new place to move to. The hope is to keep Tarbush on the Bench, but it depends on what space is available.

“I love this area and all of my customers are here,” he said, gesturing out to the street.

The Idaho Statesman first reported on the reopening.

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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