rGenerosity reigns at Ray's

rGenerosity reigns at Ray's

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Erin Elaine Casey

Hady Bahliss likes nothing better than introducing the authentic flavours of Lebanon to new customers and welcoming his loyal clientele back to his restaurant over and over. The core value of his business? Generosity.

“I want people to try the variety that Lebanon can offer on one plate at an affordable price,” says Bahliss. “Being generous is what I learned from my father.”

Bahliss says his customers are amazed by the quantity of food on the plate. “The first reaction is wow! This is filling!” he laughs, mentioning that he is also a big fan of delicious leftovers.

“Ninety per cent of my customers need take-out containers,” he says, “and I like that because then they have lunch or dinner, too!”

Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine is located in Bayer’s Lake Business Park and has been voted The Coast’s best falafel for multiple years running and landed multiple times in the top three best Middle Eastern/Persian restaurants in Halifax.

The secret? Top quality, fresh ingredients, great customer service and high standards of cleanliness and food safety.

“Lebanese foods comes from a base of healthy ingredients,” explains Bahliss. “Internationally speaking French cuisine is still number one worldwide and second is Lebanese cuisine — it’s spreading across the globe. Nova Scotians love to eat healthy food, they like fresh ingredients and they want to try a wide variety of food.”

Bahliss immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 2005 with his Canadian wife, Tina. He had earned an MBA in Lebanon and worked as an account manager and financial planner with RBC and as a national manager with Eastlink for nine years. But food was always his passion.

“I got my love of cooking and the art of cooking from my father,” says Bahliss. “He always told me to feed my eyes before I feed my stomach. I am the one who’s cooking at my home, so I came to the conclusion that I need to open up my restaurant.”

If you’re a lover of Lebanese food, you likely remember the original
Ray’s Restaurant in Scotia Square, now relocated to Burnside. “Ray was one of the first people to introduce Lebanese food to our lovely Canadian people,” explains Bahliss, who is close friends with Ray’s family. He wanted to honour Ray’s legacy and their friendship, so he opened Ray’s in Bayer’s Lake four years ago. It’s been going strong ever since.

The platters at Ray’s are truly impressive. All come with rice, lentils and noodles, mixed veggies with homemade tomato sauce, potato wedges marinated in garlic and lemon juice, a choice of hummus or baba ghanoush and a choice of coleslaw, tabouli or fatoush salad. The customer only has to choose their protein — chicken, beef, lamb, fish or falafel.

Ray’s can accommodate almost any food preference or restriction and Bahliss believes in sourcing top quality ingredients, local whenever possible.

“My message to the customer is: Know what you’re eating because your life depends on it — especially now with cancer surrounding us,” he says. “Our chicken comes from Eden Valley and it’s grain fed, hormone free and waterless. We debone the chicken, marinate it in house, put it on skewers. Our beef is made with AAA prime beef, marinated in house. It comes from P.E.I. or Calgary and my donair meat comes from Leo’s Donairs which has been in the market for 40 years and is super clean.”

Vegetables are sourced in season and locally from the valley when available.

Plus, almost everything on the menu is gluten free with the exception of pita and the rice and noodle dish. “There is no flour in my kitchen,” emphasizes Bahliss. There are also plenty of vegetarian options.

Ray’s restaurant in Bayer’s Lake isn’t your only option for trying Bahliss’s fantastic food. He caters everything from huge weddings to private parties to meetings. And he loves to branch out: Greek, Italian, French and many other cuisines are also available. All you have to do is check out the beautiful photos on the restaurant’s Facebook page to get a feel for the delicious choices he offers.

If you’d like to try a more fine dining experience, Bahliss also offers private bookings in his restaurant, with white tablecloths, Lebanese wines and table service. “This is what I would like to focus on for Canadians,” he explains, “weddings, conferences, private catering, private bookings in the restaurant — we can accommodate anything. The largest event we did was about 400 people.”

Bahliss is taking the long view with his business. It’s all about excellent customer service and building long-term relationships with diners. “I’m not here to make money in one night,” he laughs. “I love it. I love people. I want them to taste and enjoy the difference quality makes.”

Find out more about Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine at rayslebanesecuisine.ca.

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