New restaurant set to open in downtown Oconomowoc
"Local people have to help local people," says owner
It's family first at the Two Sisters Cafe, expected to open later this month at the former location of Around the Lakes Restaurant.
Mike and Sally Zekiri have been in the restaurant business for almost 20 years, since they first arrived in America in 1995. Mike Zekiri said he and his wife started working at his uncle's restaurant in Whitewater after the family emigrated from Albania.
"We started as dishwashers," Mike Zekiri said. "Then we worked in the kitchen on the line, and then later [I worked] as a chef."
In 2000, they started their own restaurant in Juneau called PJ's, which they ran for 12 years. The Zekiris have three children — Vjolca, 25, Shane, 20, and Ferit, 18 — all of whom were expected to help out at PJ's after school.
Vjolca Asani (she recently married) said the family sets itself apart through its work ethic. All three children are attending college, but Asani said she and her siblings will continue to work at the cafe in their free time.
"Working together as a family, we have done it for so long," Asani said. "We count on each other and never let each other down. It is a family-friendly restaurant and a family business."
Asani said her father will probably work in the kitchen while her mother works in the dining hall.
"My mom loves to be out front and mingling with the customers," she said. "She is very good at that."
They plan to hire additional staff to help out in the kitchen and to wait tables, Asani said.
The name of the cafe came at Asani and Shane's suggestion, Mike Zekiri said.
"They wanted it to be named after them, Two Sisters," he said, laughing. "I said, 'OK, I am not against it.'"
The cafe, 515 E. Wisconsin Ave., is expected to open Monday, Feb. 24, and will serve American food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant will also host a Friday night fish fry, Mike Zekiri said.
Mike Zekiri said he and his wife plan to move to Oconomowoc once the business is established. He said his reason for moving is so that he could be closer to his children and because of the nice things he has heard about the community.
"We heard they support local businesses," Mike Zekiri said. "We do, too. Local people have to help local people."
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