Popular mid-county Mediterranean restaurant expands to Watsonville
WATSONVILLE—Earlier this month, Zameen at the Hangar celebrated its official soft opening—quietly, and with little fanfare.
This was a deliberate move, said restaurant owner Ed Watson.
“We wanted to get people in gradually,” Watson said. “To make sure we knew what we were doing before announcing it to the world.”
But not advertising has not stopped eager customers from finding out about Zameen at the Hangar through word-of-mouth and social media. There has been a steady flow of customers to the restaurant since opening Dec. 3.
“People have been so perceptive,” Watson said. “[People] from local businesses, or even just walking down the street. They say they’re dying for a different type of food.”
Zameen at the Hangar is an expansion of Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, a popular and well-reviewed restaurant that has two locations in mid-county. Watson, who is originally from Newcastle, England, opened the Aptos location 13 years ago.
Watson said his love for the food came initially from his father-in-law, who is Persian.
“When we first opened Zameen in Aptos, it was a very Persian menu,” he said. “We did kebabs and other traditional dishes. But as we’ve grown we’ve become more Mediterranean, with falafel, gyros, things like that.”
When working on the Pleasure Point location a few years ago, Watson and business partner Alexis Snowden met Kevin and Brian Dueck of EKB Partners. The brothers told them about a building project at Watsonville Municipal Airport and asked if they’d be interested.
“At the time, I thought it was too much,” Watson said. “We were just opening our second location—thinking of a third already was crazy. But once we saw the space, and the community feel of the project… we knew we wanted to be involved.”
The Dueck’s complex, “The Hangar,” saw the opening of its first business, Beer Mule Bottle Shop and Pour House (an expansion of Beer Thirty in Soquel), in March. In October Mr. Z’s Crepes and Teas opened its doors. More is planned, including Aloha Hola Tacos and Ritual Ride Cycle Studio.
Snowden, whose mother Mimi Snowden helped design the Aptos Zameen location, joined Watson almost seven years ago. She was working in San Francisco when her mom told her Watson was looking for a partner to manage the restaurant as it grew.
This included sizing down the menu slightly for Zameen at the Point, as it was going into a substantially smaller building. The menu will be the same for Zameen at the Hangar, Snowden said.
“It’s sort of a truncated version of the Aptos menu,” she explained. “It’s easier to replicate that way, and it makes service quicker.”
For Snowden, expanding to Watsonville has been an exciting experience.
“Watsonville as a community… they really show up for each other,” Snowden said. “The social media buzz here is incredible. They’re on top of it.”
Watson guessed that it might be due to the age demographics of South County.
“I was surprised how young the crowd is here, compared to a place like Aptos,” he said. “The more we’ve gotten to know the people of Watsonville… the more exciting this project has become.”
Zameen at the Hangar will have a grand opening event sometime in January. For updates follow Zameen Meddetarian Cuisine on Instagram (@zameencuisine) and Facebook.