Mediterranean Cafe Tahoe opens on North Shore
Jon Ganea, originally from Romania, has wanted to open a Mediterranean-style restaurant in Lake Tahoe for the past 16 years.
His dream finally came true when he and his wife, Kelley Keleher, opened up the Mediterranean Cafe Tahoe on Jan. 30.
Ganea first developed a love of Mediterranean cuisine when attending college in Bucharest, Romania, where he says there were many shawarma restaurants.
When he moved to Lake Tahoe in 2006, he noticed that there was a lack of Mediterranean food and decided to change that.
Ganea and his wife met each other at Jake’s on the Lake, where they worked as managers for several years.
In 2021, the couple finally found the opportunity to open up a restaurant when the owner of Za’s decided to move and gave them a good deal on the previous location, which included most of the equipment needed to open a restaurant.
Although everything was falling into place, the two ran into some hurdles on their journey to opening the cafe.
“The last storm — the gas line for this part of the building got ripped off of the wall,” Keleher said. “They had to run a new gas line through the attic of the building, and we didn’t know if we were going to open until the day before we actually opened, so that was kind of scary.”
This is the first restaurant the couple has opened. It’s required a lot of work figuring out how to make it happen.
“I’ve worked in many, many restaurants, but owning one is very different than managing one,” Ganea said. “But we’re quick learners and we have a lot of friends that are in the industry… Johnny Roscher is the one who helped me out the most… he was nice enough to give me a chance.” Ganea said.
The cafe is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and also offers signature dishes such a shawarma, falafel, gyros, borscht, polenta, and even specialty Romanian cookies.
“I really wanted some new food in town. I feel like Tahoe City has really been lacking in that department.” Ganea said.
“In just variety,” Keleher added. “Obviously, we love Jake’s and Za’s because Jake’s used to be where we pretty much lived, and then we love Za’s as well. The lunch market is something that is hard to find around here during the week especially, and so we just wanted to provide a quick, healthy option for people.”
“Affordable, fresh, different — it is a Mediterranean cafe, but it has a lot of influences of my home.” Ganea said.
The Mediterranean Cafe is open daily from noon to 7 p.m. It’s at 395 N. Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City. The cafe also offers to go orders, as well as online ordering through the toast app.
Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com
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