A small but popular Middle Eastern restaurant in Lexington has been sold.
But before the Oasis changed hands, the new owner had to make a deal: keep the same food.
That’s what Ahmad Saleh said he would do. He had help: For about four months, longtime owner Mahmoud Ahmad taught Saleh how to prepare the food that has kept fans coming back (in some cases every day) for more than 20 years. So, yes, there will remain authentic Mediterranean favorites.
“I’ve known the family forever, they’re friends and they made me a promise,” Saleh said.
The Chevy Chase Plaza restaurant officially changed hands this month after Saleh bought it from Ahmad, who bought The Oasis with partners in 2002.
The Ahmad family posted a farewell message on the restaurant’s Facebook page saying, “I would like to inform our dear customers that we have sold the Oasis restaurant. We have been the sole owners for 20 years, but let’s go for new adventures! I want to thank everyone for all the memories we have created and shared over the years. Thank you for the support you all have given us since day one and for showing up and staying with us during the pandemic! We hope you show the same love you have shown us all towards the new owners!”
Ali Ahmad, the son of Mahmoud Ahmad, said his father, originally from Lebanon, came to Lexington from Detroit to work at another restaurant, called Aladdin. Then he and two associates decided to buy The Oasis from a Syrian family who had opened a Middle Eastern grocery store with a small buffet under that name years before.
Ahmad expanded the buffet, adding more dishes, including salads and Lebanese specialties, Ali Ahmad said. Over the years, Mahmoud Ahmad bought out the partners and now his father is ready to retire and move back to Michigan where the family still lives, Ali Ahmad said.
So he worked with Saleh. “We have been training with him for four months, we have given him all our recipes and all the secrets of our ingredients,” Ahmad said.
Thus the shakshuka, foul moudammas, moujadara, shawarma and garlic sauce and all the other dishes are always available for lunch or dinner, a great comfort for many customers.
Ali Ahmad said many regulars come for lunch every day. “We just tell the kitchen their name and they know what to do,” he said.
But Saleh is planning some changes: he’s bringing back the lunch buffet. “Very soon,” he said.
And he plans to add more vegetarian options, which he said customers have been asking for.
As for the regular menu, “if there’s room for an upgrade, we’ll do it,” he said.
What: mediterranean restaurant
Where: 837 Place Chevy Chase
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday
On line: Oasisrestaurant.org