What began as a patio expansion at EZ Kebab, became the birth of a new concept for founder, Roland Karam. Last spring, Karam opened EZ Kebab in the iconic A-frame building off Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa. At just 400 square feet, the casual eatery serving Lebanese street food welcomed guests with a humble walk-up window. To meet growing demand, Karam embarked on an expansion, adding two patios on either side of the structure. During the expansion, he found that the larger patio took on a persona of its own.
Today, Karam introduced BEI, a full-service dinner concept focusing on Lebanese family-style dining. Much like EZ Kebab, BEI is distinctly Lebanese. Short for Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, BEI shares a kitchen with EZ Kebab affording guests some popular menu crossovers, including char-grilled kebabs, spit-roasted shawarma, and falafel, but served in larger dinner-sized portions. New items, exclusive to BEI include hot mezze offerings like Shawarma Hummus, Fried Squash, or Fried Cauliflower, and a shareable BEI App Sampler featuring an assortment of kibbeh, sambousek, spinach fatayer, and cheese rolls, all of which can also be ordered a la carte. Cold Mezze offerings include housemade Labneh served with pita, Grape Leaves stuffed with seasoned rice, and Kibbeh Neyyeh, a Lebanese take on steak tartare.
Entrees include family-style kebab plates with halal meats and vegan options like falafel. The signature BEI Kebab Platter offers a feast for two and includes halal lamb chops, ribeye steak, chicken breast, and kafta served with toum, a traditional whipped garlic sauce, and garlic yogurt. A selection of traditional Lebanese sides served family style, include hummus, baba ghanoush, lentil soup, tabouli, and fattoush salad. For dessert, guests can look forward to flaky Baklava squares drizzled with honey and a decadent Knefe, a traditional dessert of baked akkawi cheese drenched in rose water syrup.
“Hospitality is in my nature and having grown up in Lebanon, I’ve always looked for ways I can share the love of my culture and the authentic flavors of our cuisine with my community. The elevated service model at BEI allows us to take that one step further, to not only share Lebanese cuisine, but our style of hospitality as well,” explains Karam.
At just over 500 square feet, BEI boasts an elegant and inviting ambiance, meticulously designed to create a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere. The fully-enclosed, heated patio offers seating for 42 with two-toned leather chairs and luxe banquette seating. The walls are adorned with modern art from Lebanese artist Natasha Simonian, while marble tabletops, woven basket chandeliers, and a wallpapered ceiling showcase Karam’s eye for design. The focal point of the dining room is a faux-succulent wall illuminated by a neon sign that states ‘Yalla Habibi’ embracing the spirit of the restaurant which translates to “Let’s go, Baby!”
To complement its elevated dinner menu, BEI’s beverage program will feature a curated selection of beer and wine, focusing on wines from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, California wines with Lebanese history like DAOU Vineyards, and Lebanese lagers like Almaza.
In addition to BEI’s dining space, EZ Kebab also added a second patio on the opposing side of its A-frame kitchen. With casual seating for 30, the new covered and heated patio gives guests a place to enjoy their meal on-site for the first time since EZ Kebab’s opening in April 2023.
Karam’s brother-in-law, Rony Abi Chedid serves as executive chef for EZ Kebab, EZ Kebab Catering, and BEI. He brings 25 years of experience cooking all over the Middle East, from 5-star resorts in Lebanon to modern Mediterranean restaurants in Kuwait and Qatar. Eryck Duran, the brand’s director of operations, brings years of operational and hospitality leadership experience to the restaurants. Duran has spent several years overseeing operations in different levels of hospitality and will lead the EZ Kebab and BEI brands as they expand to additional locations.