Last week we celebrated Destination Lebanon at Nicola’s restaurant in Atlanta. Everyone who attended this event had a fabulous time, mostly attributed to Nicola H. Ayoub, the owner of Nicola’s who is always smiling and trying to entertain a crowd. It is hard to look at Nicola and not to smile yourself. He will tell you he is the happiest man on the planet and has had a beautiful life. In fact, no matter the ups or down, he never complained and embraced every moment with gratefulness. At 66 years old, you will find Nicola dancing about, showing people how to loosen up and enjoy the special gift of life. His energy was infections and the crowd could not stop laughing when Nicola showed his belly twisting and glass balancing acts.

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Nicola moved from Lebanon to Atlanta in 1970, where he attended Georgia State University, worked as a janitor and met his wife. He opened the restaurant 30 years ago and says he hasn’t changed the menu or prices since then!

Nicola shared his story with the attendees of the event and fed them a scrumptious feast of authentic Lebanese fare. Hommos, grape leaves, artichoke hearts, baba ghanoush, fattoush salad, tabbouleh, lamb shawarma, kibbee and chicken florentine were served family style. The vegetarians had their own fixed plates with ample selections.

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After dinner, Hrair Balian, Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center in Atlanta shared his perspective on the Middle East and answered the audience’s burning questions about the region. Mr Balian talked about the role of The Carter Center in facilitation negotiations and implementing community programs in Africa and Middle East. He also talked about what it is like to work and travel with the enterprising President Jimmy Carter around the world.

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The evening ended with a private dance lesson where everyone was shown Lebanese dance moves by Nicola. Who knew we even had a couple of professionals in the group! Watch the video of Go Eat Give Destination Lebanon attendees dancing away at Nicola’s restaurant.

The monthly “Destination” events are part of Go Eat Give’s mission to raise awareness of  cultures. They feature cuisine and culture of a different country each month. The events are open to the public and portion of the proceeds go to benefit the nonprofit. Join Destination Afghanistan in October or check the calendar for future destinations.

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