Diana Kessler missed the Mantu, a beef and pasta dish served at the Afghan Kabob in Springfield, which burned in 2002, leaving the fans of the authentic Afghan foods at a loss. It has just reopened.
Nancy Sterling remembered the day of the fire, looking on from the nearby 7-Eleven as the store burned.
"We just cried," Sterling said, and could find no culinary substitute.
"We have just been suffering," Sterling said.
Barbara Cohen liked the neighborhood feel at the Afghan Kabob.
"It's good to have a neighborhood restaurant," Cohen said.
THE THREE SPRINGFIELD women sat at a table on the evening of Wednesday, June 30, enjoying the food and soaking up the new atmosphere at the restaurant. Hashim Abbasi, restaurant owner, was glad to see the smiling faces of his regular clientele.
"I was very excited to open this place again, I got so many phone calls," Abbasi said.
The official cause of the fire was never determined, but it happened during a storm, Abassi said, and he attributes it to lightning. It took a long time to reopen, he admitted, but he didn't want to rush rebuilding it and took extra precautions to give the restaurant a personal touch and less of a former Pizza Hut-looking establishment.
"More quality, more clean. I spent a lot of money, but it came out good," Abassi said.
IN THE KITCHEN, he put in new exhaust fans and a new bread mixer and tiled the whole kitchen for cleanliness and fire protection. He's added to the menu, as well.
"Everything is brand new," Abassi said. “The dumpling and lamb chops, they were not here before."
Ehsan Noory is a fan of the kabobs with a personal touch. Noory knew Abbasi in Afghanistan.
"He's always good to us. My favorite dish is the kabob, we come from the same town in Afghanistan," Noory said.
"I was his favorite customer," said frequent diner Esmat Ali.
Linda Fleischer and Bill Russell, husband and wife from Springfield, were regulars before and were back on the second day of business.
"We talked about when this place was going to reopen. We drove by [regularly]," Fleischer said. "We've been missing it terribly."