Manitou welcoming Mediterranean cafe, hookah bar

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Michael Ezzat and Jimmy Sabry were successful entrepreneurs in New York before moving to Colorado.

Michael Ezzat and Jimmy Sabry were successful entrepreneurs in New York before moving to Colorado.

Veteran New York entrepreneurs Jimmy Sabry and Michael Ezzat have opened a Mediterranean-style café in Manitou Springs.

The Nile Café, 954 Manitou Ave., offers Mediterranean food, coffee and desserts.

Sabry and Ezzat also plan to offer hookah for nighttime customers.

The pair plans a grand opening on May 1. Customers can expect breakfast, lunch and dinner to be served seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and pending city approval, hookah until 2 a.m.

Hailing originally from Egypt, the business partners have spent the better part of three decades as owner-operators of various businesses.

Sabry owned an Italian restaurant in New York and Ezzat owned a New York rental-car company and a travel agency in Hawaii.

Sabry moved to Colorado Springs six months ago when his wife, who is in the Air Force, was stationed here. He called Ezzat, who moved to Colorado Springs during December.

The pair hatched a plan for the restaurant soon after, then settled on the location in downtown Manitou Springs.

“We’ll have a good sized menu including appetizers, salads, cold and hot sandwiches and desserts,” Sabry said. “It’s something different that people can’t find elsewhere.”

Sabry said he appreciates the support of the 600 Manitou residents who signed a petition to allow hookah in the establishment. The partners plan to present their formal request to the City Council on May 13, and begin offering hookah, if permitted, as soon as May 15.

Hookah is a multi-stemmed water pipe used for smoking flavored tobacco. The Nile Café will provide the hookahs and the tobacco, which Ezzat says contains no tar or nicotine, and transform the restaurant into a hookah lounge one hour after the kitchen closes.

Sabry admits the struggling economy presents challenges for entrepreneurs, but remains positive about the outlook for his business, and even plans to open more locations.

“It’s scary, but if you look at all the states, Colorado seems to have less of a problem,” he said. “It is more stable, and it helps to have Fort Carson here. I think the base really provides a boost to the local economy.”

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According to a Whole Foods Market report, FSC is an international nonprofit company that promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests and offers the most comprehensive standard for certification of forest products.

Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.