Shish Tawook, handmade falafel and old world hummus — these are a few of the savory bites that bring visitors flocking in to Leila every week. The popular Syrian-Lebanese restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach is the epicenter in the daily lives of the Awad family.
Owned by Wellington residents Akram Alex Awad and his wife, Mireille, Leila features Syrian and Lebanese classics that Mireille re-created using old recipes from her mother and mother-in-law.
The Syrian-born Akram met the Lebanese Mireille in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. They were soon married and celebrated ceremonies in both Damascus and Los Angeles. Akram was a successful jeweler in Los Angeles when a cousin suggested that Mireille’s delicious cooking should be shared with the world. The opportunity for a restaurant in West Palm Beach arose, and the Awads were soon owners of Leila Restaurant on Clematis Street.
The Awad children, Constantine and Christine, have grown up working in the restaurant and enjoy the time spent with family and the food. While Constantine is studying business management and Christine is studying to be a nurse, both children pitch in at Leila, where they are treated as any other employee.
While the Wellington family enjoys living “the American Dream,” the Awads recognize that their success is also thanks to the community they serve. Both Akram and Mireille have instilled the importance of giving back in both their children, and generously donate their time toward helping others.
Every month, the Awads host “Give Back Wednesday,” where 10 percent of all dinner sales are donated back to a different local charity. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the Police Athletic League of West Palm Beach and the local Susan G. Komen affiliate will all benefit from a dinner this fall. The charities invite friends, supporters and the public at large to enjoy an evening of exotic delights. Guests gather in the back on the covered patio where authentic hookas, belly dancers and tropical foliage create the feeling of an Arabian night.
While the attendees are entertained and celebrate a fun night out, it’s the charity that truly benefits, which is the most important part of the evening for the Awads.
To learn more about Leila, visit www.leilawpb.com or call (561) 659-7373.