LINCOLN PARK — When Mohammed Bashir opened Ghareeb Nawaz in Rogers Park in 1993, the restaurant became popular among fellow Indian and Pakistani neighbors who would stop in for satisfying but cheap late-night meal.
Decades later, Bashir’s son, Mohammed Bozai, runs Ghareeb Nawaz. The family restaurant has gotten so popular it’s expanded with three more locations, including one that opened last month in Lincoln Park.
The Lincoln Park spot, 2364 N. Lincoln Ave., opened Oct. 17 with fans — including Lincoln Parkers who rejoiced they can now eat at Ghareeb Nawaz without having to travel to its other spots — celebrating.
“The response is amazing, and the Lincoln Park area has welcomed us with open arms,” Bozai said. “It’s been nothing but positivity, and I’m really thankful to everybody.”
News of the new location spread like wildfire on social media, partly due to Ghareeb Nawaz’s popular Twitter account, @ghareebnawazCHI, which mixes restaurant promotion with college humor.
“Eat Ghareeb Nawaz or else,” the account’s bio reads. It posts a mix of retweets from Ghareeb Nawaz fans, playful commentary on a given day’s trending topics and more.
The account is run by Khalil Suliman, a fan of Ghareeb Nawaz who frequented its location at 807 W. Roosevelt Road when he was a student at UIC, Bozai said. The Tribune’s Lauryn Azu profiled Suliman last week.
“Everyone always comes in and asks who’s running the Twitter account,” Bozai said. “But it’s Khalil, and he’s doing an amazing job. He does it in a different way by throwing his sense of humor into it.”
Ghareeb Nawaz’s menu features traditional Indian-Pakistani dishes, but its most popular items is its butter chicken, which uses heavy cream to add richness to the sauce, Bozai said. It also serves wraps and rice bowls.
The Lincoln Park restaurant is smaller than Ghareeb Nawaz’s Rogers Park location on Devon Avenue, so it features a scaled-down menu from the hundreds of items served at the first location, Bozai said.
New to the Lincoln Park spot are the restaurant’s mango cheesecake and buttered chicken-topped fries, Bozai said.
“We have something for everybody in our kitchens,” Bozai said.
Ghareeb Nawaz is named after an Indian saint who was known for giving food to the homeless and poor, Bozai said. As such, prices tend to fall under $11 for a meal.
Bozai took over from his father in 2008, but he grew up working weekends at the restaurant with his family, he said.
“It’s been really cool to watch how the business has grown since then,” Bozai said. “Originally, the first location was just like people from our countries who would come out to eat, but then I saw this shift where we started attracting people from all walks of life coming in from around the world.”
Bozai, a DePaul University alumnus, expected the new location to primarily attract nearby college students. Instead it’s drawn as diverse a crowd as the Rogers Park spot, he said.
“If you sit down for an hour, you’ll count 10-20 different backgrounds just sitting there and enjoying our food, so it’s clear we’re doing something right,” Bozai said. “This is a place for everybody.”
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