After cooking in other people’s restaurants for more than a dozen years, Romina Khamoo knew it was time to venture out on her own.
But first the longtime Turlock resident had to find a place. A little before Thanksgiving she happened into George’s Burger in north Modesto. Almost on a whim Khamoo, who goes by the nickname “Betty,” asked the owner, “Are you going to sell it?” He answered back, “Why, do you want to buy it?” And, Khamoo replied, “Yeah!” Ten days later, she was the owner of the restaurant and a couple days after Thanksgiving Betty’s Kabob opened in its place.
“I’ve worked a long time in other restaurants as a chef, and I always thought, ‘I need something of my own.’ But I wasn’t sure how I could do it,” she said. “This time God gave me the opportunity to find a home here.”
The restaurant on Sylvan Avenue, across from the Marie Callender’s, serves Persian and Mediterranean food including a wide range of its signature kabobs. Khamoo, who serves as head chef, co-owns the restaurant with her brother, Feridoun Khamou. They installed new appliances in the kitchen, painted and updated a few other details. About six members of their extended families work at the restaurant, making it a wholly family affair.
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While this is the first restaurant Khamoo has owned, she has worked as a chef for the Assyrian-American Civic Club and Patogh Restaurant in Turlock. But she started cooking even younger, at age 14, while still living in Iran. When her mother fell ill, she took over the kitchen duties for her family.
She calls the food she she serves “what I grew up with.” The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily and has a capacity of about 80. Its menu features several skewer dishes like beef soltani (a flap steak kabob and a ground beef kabob), chicken barg (marinated chicken breast kabob) and lamb kabob. All skewer dishes come with rice, grilled tomato and jalapeno (or sweet pepper, for the heat averse). The kabob dishes range in price from $12 to $18.
But the menu also has a number of other dishes, from appetizers like dolmas (grape or cabbage leaves stuffed with meat, rice and spices) to hummus, baklava and traditional Persian soups. Nearly everything is made from scratch in the kitchen, down to the yogurt served alongside many of the dishes. And soon you can order in from the comfort of your home as the restaurant will be joining online delivery services DoorDash and UberEats.
Server Reymon Tajaddod said when Assyrian customers come in, they often ask about the restaurant’s name. In Assyrian, the word “betty” roughly translates to “my everything,” meaning your heart and home and comfort. While the restaurant is named after Khamoo, and not the term of endearment, they hope diners feel “betty” when they’re in her restaurant.
Betty’s Kabob, at 1300 Sylvan Ave. Suite B3. in Modesto, is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information call 209-248-7490 or visit www.facebook.com/bettys.kabob.9.
Elsewhere on the Business Beat:
A couple of closures to report since the start of the year.
At the Vintage Faire Mall, two stores have shuttered recently. Last week the long-running jewelry shop Cal-Time closed after 34 years in the shopping center. Opened in 1985 by Sam Ganja and his brother, the shop has been selling and fixing primarily watches for decades. Ganja said he made the choice to retire and close the shop, and thanked his loyal customers over the years. Also at Vintage Faire, the Swarovski crystal shop closed in late January. The store sold crystal-based jewelry, watches, accessories, home collectables, lighting and more.
In Turlock, the Me-N-Ed’s Pizzeria has closed. The pizza parlor in the Monte Vista Crossings shopping center on Countryside Drive is part of a California chain with restaurants largely up and down the central part of the state. The Turlock location posted a farewell message to its customers Jan. 29 on Facebook. Me-N-Ed’s has other valley locations in Modesto on 3900 Pelandale Avenue and Merced on G Street.