UPDATE | Baba Ghanouj will now close on Jan. 31.

PREVIOUS UPDATE | Due to staffing issues, Baba Ghanouj will close on Jan. 24, not Feb. 15 as previously reported.

ORIGINAL STORY: Bixby Knolls staple Baba Ghanouj to close doors on Feb. 15

1/16/2020 | It can be argued that George Mitri brought Lebanese food to Long Beach. In 1976, he opened Sahara in Belmont Shore, offering the city its first taste of falafel and shawarma as well as the Levantine staple that is baba ghanouj.

Though the days of Sahara are far behind, Mitri found a much firmer following with Baba Ghanouj, his Bixby Knolls restaurant that, after serving the neighborhood for more than a decade, will have its final night of service on Feb. 15

While Mitri said he has sold the business and will be making the announcement of what is to come next, he was tight-lipped about the closure, saying he will go into further detail after he formally shuts the doors. Baba Ghanouj’s closing comes on the heels of the closure of PowWow Pizza, a new restaurant that seemed to fit Bixby Knolls’ vibe but ultimately failed. Mitri’s restaurant was one of the neighborhood’s most respected staples, in large part because of the respect afforded to Mitri himself.

His food made it possible for places like Open Sesame, The Green Olive and Ammatolí to flourish in their respective neighborhoods but, unlike the aforementioned restaurants that span the entirety of the Levant from Syria to Palestine, Mitri focused in on his home country of Lebanon and proudly called his food Lebanese—not Mediterranean.

This was Middle Eastern food and Mitri wasn’t afraid to call it so. Your last chance to have some is Feb. 15.

Baba Ghanouj is located at 4276 Atlantic Ave.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.