LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ramin Akrami loves to cook, and eat what he cooks. That’s because he’s a foodie and the founder of Shiraz Mediterranean Grill in Louisville.
The restaurant’s signature dish is the ground beef kebab, which Akrami said was inspired by his dad.
“Cause when you eat at Shiraz, you’re really eating at my parents’ house,” Akrami said. He also added that his 85-year-old father, Ata Akrami, was the stepping stone for the restaurant and that without him the restaurant wouldn’t be here.
“Because he’s the maestro when it comes to this type of food,” Akrami told Spectrum News 1.
Akrami is living his dream, but the path to get here wasn’t easy. He grew up in Iran, and his family lived the good life, like vacationing at the Caspian Sea. In the early 1970s, Akrami’s parents sent him to the United States for high school.
He had no idea that less than a decade later, his parents would also move to the U.S. as political asylees because of the Iranian Revolution.
“They didn’t speak English. They didn’t know the culture. They didn’t know the road signs. They didn’t want to be here. Every day they prayed to God, please make things better in our country so we can go back home,” Akrami said.
Father Ata Akrami was an accountant in Iran but always enjoyed making food as a hobby. He eventually started his own catering business in Louisville.
Even though none of the family has returned to Iran, the traditional Persian food Akrami serves at his restaurant connects him.
“I take a bite of it, and it reminds me of…takes me back to my childhood,” Akrami said.
In 2005, Akrami founded his dream. He left a lucrative career in electrical engineering. With $15,000 and equipment from his dad’s catering business, he founded his Shiraz. There are now five locations, and his dad still makes the marinades.
“There’s 60 years’ experience behind all of these recipes here that I started when I was in my country,” father Akrami explained.
A true family business, Akrami’s son, Kamron Akrami, also works in the kitchen.
“I’m glad he opened the restaurant and everything for sure because I know he wasn’t really too happy being an electrical engineer, and he’s much happier doing this. Followed his dream,” the 21-year-old said.
Akrami plans to pass the restaurant on to his son.
“My dad was a stepping stone for Shiraz. Hopefully by the time I am done with it we’ll have 20-30 stores, and hopefully, he’ll take it nationwide. Maybe his kids will take it international. Who knows?”