Welcome, My Friends
Hello, my name is Amine [pronounced Ah-meen], and it's my pleasure to welcome you to Zaytouna Lounge. Zaytouna is a reflection of my dream to share some of what I love about Morocco, my native country, with my neighbors here in America—my adopted home. How I came to be here is as much a part of Zaytouna Lounge as the furniture, the authentic Moroccan tea glasses, the petanque court, and the outside decking. So here are the highlights of my story.
Even as a boy I dreamed of coming to this land of opportunity. Great American runners, such as Carl Lewis, inspired those dreams in the heart of a young Moroccan boy who loved to run. Born outside Taza, an old country town in the north, I loved the outdoors, often running with the imposing Rif Mountains before me.
I came to Austin in 1988, enrolling at the University of Texas, to study science and civil engineering. I later switched to computer science. The exchange rate between the Moroccan dirham and the American dollar made it difficult for my parents to provide much help, so I began to work my way through college by working at the cafeteria in my dormitory, the Castillian. That's where the idea of a Moroccan lounge and restaurant first came to me.
While studying at UT, I was offered a full track scholarship at Huston-Tillotson College (now University), so I transferred. I no longer needed to wash dishes in a cafeteria to pay for college, but I never forgot the idea of introducing my Austin friends and neighbors to Moroccan cuisine and culture.
In Morocco, coffee shops are everywhere. That's where people go to meet with friends, to discuss business, or just to be a part of the community. Although I hope someday to transform Zaytouna into a full restaurant, opening a coffee shop is a great start toward realizing my dream. Come visit, and let me show you Moroccan hospitality!