If the folks who run Charley’s Restaurant seem awfully close-knit, there’s a good reason. From hostess to bartenders to owners, it’s all in the family who make it work.
Charles first came here in 1973, joining his uncle’s family in Mankato. Lebanese tradition holds that the oldest child is educated and tended to, and he is then responsible for providing for his parents and siblings, Charles explained. “Coming from another culture, you have to make an extra effort,” he said, referring to learning the language and a new lifestyle. “The community of Mankato helped my family a lot.” Charles has worked in the local restaurant business for 40 years, and credits his family for his success. They first tried their recipe for operating restaurants when Charles bought Uncle Sam’s restaurant.
He bought Charley’s and they have focused on a menu appealing to all ages. To watch them work and hear them talk; it’s a labor of love that comes naturally. Their friendliness has drawn a regular clientele that enjoys those small touches bred by familiarity and good humor. “We know most of them by name,” Charles said. “They don’t forget that. People comment a lot about the family. They’re loyal.” But does it ever to be too much, mixing family and business? “Why it works is respect.”
There is one daily event that the restaurant has to take a back seat to: lunch with their mother. “If one of us doesn’t make it, she worries and thinks something’s wrong,” Charles said, smiling. “It’s nice. We get together and talk.” But then it’s back to work, which none of them seems to mind. “It takes a family with a good attitude, with personality,” Charles said. “We love people and we appreciate what we’ve got.”
Sadaka family picture from 1990