It’s Sunday evening, just before Labor Day and Siena’s kosher vegetarian restaurant is packed with young and old customers eager to dig into their favorite dishes. The younger crowd opts for slices of cheese pizza while the adults enjoy their time sampling menu favorites such as the Mediterranean sample platter, Teriyaki salmon and veggie burritos.
The restaurant recently relocated to Rockville’s kosher mecca on Boiling Brook Parkway, joining Israeli grill Al Ha’esh, Judaic store Israeli Accents and Moti’s market in the same strip shopping center.
Siena’s dining room is more spacious than at the previous location, with see-through plastic chairs that make the room feel even larger. On the walls hang paintings which depict Mediterranean and Italian landscapes and there are fancy ceiling fixtures that add a touch of opulence to the room.
“I like the fact that we didn’t have to wait in the long line to get seated and the place is really very attractive as far as space is concerned,” said Evi Rezmovic, a member of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation. Adds her husband, Victor, “Coming to Siena’s is like a community experience because you see people you know.”
Owner Ramesh Zadeh has re-introduced Mexican food to the menu — burritos, nachos, quesadillas and fish tacos. She said she received a lot of support in the days leading up to the reopening.
“I received so many calls, texts and Facebook messages asking when we were going to open, and that gave me a lot energy,” said Zadeh, who was born in Iran. “I have lived in the United States for so many years and have never had a close family, but my customers are like family to me.”
She said that before she relocated, she experienced problems such as “limited parking, high rent and frequent break-ins.” she said.
Before she became a restaurant owner, Zadeh worked in retail as an operations manager. “I always told myself, if I can do this, then I can run my own business,” she said. Yet, the restaurant business doesn’t come without its challenges.
“I chose this business, but people need to understand how hard it is to run a restaurant,” she said. “We all need their support. Customers shouldn’t wait for a restaurant to close down and then ask why. There really is no why, people just need to support us.”
Sarah Moosazadeh is a Washington-area writer.