Liza the woman is a personification of Liza the restaurants. They share a name, a look that fuses the modern and the traditional, and they both enthusiastically display Lebanese talents. Liza Asseily and her husband Ziad opened the impeccably decorated restaurants in Paris in 2005 and in Beirut in 2013, and are currently living between the two cities with their three-year-old daughter.
After your success in Paris, why open in Beirut?
We were always craving Lebanese food in Paris but all the restaurants were the same, so we decided to show the Lebanon we love. But to position yourself as a Lebanese restaurant abroad you must have a restaurant here – it was a strategic decision. We discovered this old house and it was a rare opportunity, a fantastic long-term opportunity, and I think it’s the best decision we’ve made.
Is it difficult working with your husband?
Working together reinforces a couple, but when we come home we continue speaking about work because it’s our passion. He has the last word with decisions and I’m happy about it because that means he has the responsibility.
Besides the food, what else is happening at Liza?
Events – including charity events – parties, we participated in Beirut Design Week, now we’re working on having musical performances. We collaborate with artists and we can even take them to Liza Paris to promote their work there. Lebanon has so much talent and we have this huge space, so why not help them – it’s win win. We want to be a platform for these designers and make a difference in the community. I think the Lebanese have a responsibility to get involved; when you can’t rely on the government you have to do it yourself. We have to stop complaining and do something.
Do you plan to open another Liza?
We are hoping to open in London but nothing is signed yet. Lebanese food is trendy now because it’s healthy. I want to open everywhere in the world!
Do you wear a lot of Lebanese designers?
I’m proud to wear Lebanese designers – how can I talk about promoting my country and its designers if I don’t do it myself? I love Rabih Kayrouz, Milia M, the Rosa Maria ring I’m wearing. Many of them are also my clients in Paris.
Tunic, Orient 499 I’ve always loved this style – it’s easy, light. You can wear it at home, go out, dress it up for a wedding or go to the beach. It looks chic without effort. I don’t even have time to do my hair and nails; I’m very lazy when it comes to these things.
Star pendant, Selim Mouzannar
Beaded necklace, Liwan
Sandals, Ancient Greek Sandals