FAIRFIELD — Ahmad Azizi remembers the restaurant location at 2390 North Texas St. from more than a decade ago.
The building housed the Lyon’s restaurant then – Lyon’s closed in 2001 – and Azizi worked for the chain. The Fairfield restaurant had some management problems.
“I came and fixed it and moved on,” Azizi said.
He’s back, but in an entirely new role. He recently opened his own restaurant, the Benicia Grill II, in the building.
Azizi stood near the entrance on a recent afternoon during the lull between lunch and dinner. He had just received a shipment of his updated menu, some 24 pages long with about 200 items.
Benicia Grill II serves everything from fish and chips to steak to French toast to salads to pasta to deserts. It serves 11 types of burgers alone, including a traditional hamburger, turkey burger and veggie burger.
If somebody wants a dish that’s not on the menu and he has the ingredients, he’ll try to provide it, Azizi said.
“The reason I’m here is because of my guests,” he said.
Azizi remodeled the building, which until a few months ago was home to the JWC Sports Pub. The colors inside are brown and tan. Azizi described the look he was reaching for as “subtle and comfortable.”
He opened his first restaurant at about age 20 in the Montclair district of Oakland. He learned the restaurant business from his father, Azizi said.
That venture came to the end after a 1991 firestorm in the Oakland-Berkeley hills destroyed more than 3,000 homes in the area. Azizi’s restaurant survived the flames, but it no longer had the same customer base.
Azizi in 2008 heard that a Benicia restaurant was for sale and he bought it. That became the first Benicia Grill.
When he decided to open a second Benicia Grill, he looked to Fairfield.
“I live in Vacaville,” Azizi said. “I’m trying to open something between Benicia and Vacaville.”
Also, the original Benicia Grill has regular customers who live in Fairfield and work in Benicia, he said.
Azizi and volunteers handed out free meals to the needy on Thanksgiving Day in front of his restaurant, even though the business was a month from opening. He plans to have more such events in the future during the holidays.
One of his goals is to be involved in the community, Azizi said.
The Benicia Grill II is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.