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International flair found in Follansbee

July 18, 2010
By WARREN SCOTT, Staff writer

FOLLANSBEE - A new restaurant at 743 Main St. (state Route 2) offers an assortment of American, Italian and Mediterranean dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, served up by a pair who are no strangers to international cuisine.

Simon and Miri Zohar, owners of the Ariana Restaurant, said their menu includes a variety of pasta dishes, including many served with chicken; New York strip steak and baked cod and an assortment of sandwiches and salads.

For breakfast they offer a mix of standard and exotic breakfast entrees, including peanut butter and banana french toast, which is Texas toast stuffed with peanut butter and sliced bananas, dipped in vanilla and cinnamon and served with hot maple syrup; or shaksuka, a Mediterranean favorite comprised of poached eggs served in a tomato sauce.

The couple, who hail from Israel, hope to add other Mediterranean favorites, including couscous or falfalfel, to the menu while continuing to serve Italian and American dishes more familiar to many of their customers.

Miri noted dishes from Italy and other Mediterranean countries are known for their nutritious quality as well as their good taste.

She added everything served at Ariana is homemade, and they have strived to make the menu and atmosphere family-friendly.

"The main thing we want is for this to be a family restaurant, a place they'll love and want to come back to," Miri said.

The pair own the building and had assisted in remodeling it for another restaurant that had operated at the site last year. In opening the new eatery, they decided to give it a new look, including a salad bar and a small stage and dance floor to accommodate musical guests or disc jockeys in the future.

The restaurant also has a room for private parties, with seating for up to 100; and a catering service.

Miri said either is available for a variety of special occasions.

Married for 29 years, Miri and Simon met in Israel while serving in the military. In Israel, all young men are required to serve for three years and all young women for two, she explained.

Miri went on to work as an accountant, while Simon became a supervisor for a shipping company, a position that brought him on many occasions to Europe and the U.S.

Several years ago they came to the U.S. to work with Miri's brother, who married an American and opened a construction business, MD Construction, in Colliers.

They also have family in California and Florida.

Like many children in Israel, the two began studying English as a second language in middle school.

Miri said she and her husband feel very strongly that new residents of a country should adapt to the language and culture there.

Asked about the restaurant's name, Miri said it was the name of a nightclub in Tel Aviv, where they lived, and they liked the sound of it.

They described Tel Aviv, Israel's second largest city, as a smaller version of New York City, and said they have enjoyed the quieter pace of the Ohio Valley.

"The people are nice. We've really enjoyed it here," Miri said.

The Zohars' youngest son, Tom, is a junior at Brooke High School. When not participating in various sports, he has assisted them at the restaurant.

Miri said the restaurant will be accepting applications so it may expand its small staff to accommodate the catering service.

The Zohars also have two grown children and a grandchild and keep in touch with them by phone and through the Internet.

"We pay a huge phone bill," said Miri, who added their adult children are planning a visit soon.

Ariana is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. It can be reached at (304) 527-7015.

(Scott can be contacted at

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