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Laila's Kitchen changes hands and names

Now Taste Budz, the new owners plan to still serve Afghan cuisine but will add a little soul food to the menu

December 26, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Brenda Franklin, left, and her fiance Perry White have opened Taste Budz in the old Laila's Kitchen location at 4 E. Franklin St. in downtown Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Laila’s Kitchen in downtown Hagerstown changed hands last month, but the new owners said they plan to continue preparing Afghan cuisine — while adding a little soul to the menu.

Perry White and his fiancee, Brenda Franklin, said they purchased the restaurant from former owners Laila and Sharif Basharyar in November with the promise that they would carry on grilling the Afghan kabobs that made the restaurant at 4 E. Franklin St. a hot dining spot since 2007.

White said Sharif Basharyar stayed around for several weeks after the restaurant was sold to help him learn the art of preparing Afghan food.

“He did two or three weeks of extensive training with us,” White said. “If we need him, he’s just a phone call away.”

Although the kabobs, naan, rice and other Afghan dishes will stay on the menu, the name of the restaurant has changed to Taste Budz.

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White said he intends to add collard greens, catfish, fried chicken, oxtail and other soul food delicacies to the menu in the spring. In addition, he said he plans to add vegan dishes prepared by his sister, Towanna Turner.

White said Turner, who has worked as a vegan chef in Berkeley, Calif., for more than 20 years, plans to move to Hagerstown next month.

“She’s a vegan cook and she’s been cooking out there for the last 20 years,” White said. “She has some great vegan stuff that you would think that it’s meat, but it’s not.”

White said he plans to prepare most of the entrees while Franklin fixes side dishes and waits on customers.

Franklin said the couple moved to Hagerstown from Brooklyn, N.Y., about four years ago to settle in a more suitable place to raise their son.

“It’s much calmer and relaxed,” Franklin said. “You can keep your doors open and not worry about anything.”

White and Franklin said they have never owned a restaurant until now, but they both bring a lot of cooking experience to the table.

She said she studied culinary arts at Cassadaga Job Corps near Buffalo, N.Y., and White managed kitchens at group homes in Brooklyn.

They said they also operate an ice cream truck in the summer.

“It’s going to be challenging, but I like it,” White said. “We’re going to be spending a lot more time together.”

In 2007, the Basharyars opened Laila’s Kitchen.

Sharif Basharyar, 59, said he and Laila started to consider selling the restaurant in 2010, when he returned from the hospital after being treated for heart problems. They decided to make the decision official in November of last year.

Sharif Basharyar said in July that he was asking $45,000 for the business, which didn’t include the building.

The Basharyars moved to the United States from Afghanistan in 1985 during the Soviet occupation of that country. They moved to Hagerstown in 2004.

Sharif Basharyar said earlier this month that he and Laila plan to move to Las Vegas to be closer to his younger brother.

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