It’s no secret many restaurants have struggled to reopen due to losses during the pandemic, but for Ahli Baba’s in downtown Burlington, hey also had to bounce back from a fire. The kabob shop is now open after more than a year.
“It was hard, it was scary at first,” said Lars Murdock “But everything fell into place.”
Ahli Baba’s was damaged on February 20th 2020, after police say an arsonist set fire to a string of garbage cans around downtown Burlington. One was right in front of the well-known and loved restaurant. It forced co-owner Lars Murdock to entirely rebuild the space that’s been home to the kabob shop for more than 25 years.
“We tore down everything, all the walls, the ceiling was redone,” Murdock said. “We moved our kitchen around, our hood is in the back, it used to be right in the center of the room.”
The work was only supposed to take a few months max, but the onset of COVID-19 was yet another blow, delaying that timeline by many months. Well, fast forward to Friday– Ahli Baba’s has a whole new look, including new electric, plumbing, and a redesigned open kitchen space.
Customers can see their favorites, like the classic gyro, steak kabobs and falafel– cheffed up in front of them. There are also some tweaks made to the menu, too. Murdock says it’s been great getting back to what he knows best, and reconnecting with longtime customers.
“So it turned out from being a tragedy to being a blessing,” he said.
Right now, the shop will be open Monday to Thursday from 4-9 pm, and weekends from 11 am to 10 pm.