KOUS KOUS REDUX At some point, you might start to wonder if there’s anything Abdel Khila can’t do. Khila, who owned the much-loved Kous Kous Café here in Mt. Lebanon in 2009, is a full-time teacher in Upper St. Clair, fluent in six languages (he teaches French and English as Second Language to middle school students), and he’s a family man who’s already planning for college for his kids, even though his oldest has years to go before she gets there.
He jokes about sleeping four hours a night. But somehow, it seems he’s serious, especially since he’s decided to bring his amazing Moroccan food back to Washington Road.
Although he closed Kous Kous years ago, Khila never stopped serving Mt. Lebanon diners. He has been a staple at our local farmers markets and run a well-respected catering business.
A pedigreed chef with experience at some of Pittsburgh’s best-known high-end restaurants (LaForet, Baum Vivant, Café Zinho), Khila new venture is Kouskous Express, a fresh, fast-casual concept, is open in the former Simple Greek spot, 665 Washington Road. “Everything is made fresh the same day,” he says. But unlike his former restaurant, it will not have a wait staff. Guests will order at the counter and eat in-house or carry out. Like the former spot, Kouskous Express is BYOB.
Always available are the standards: kous kous, rice, salads, pita and several types of beans. He also will offer several choices of protein: salmon, beef, chicken, sardines and lamb. Sauces will be tailored for those who like things spicy or people who like flavor without the heat.
Food will be a reasonable price point, with dishes costing $10 to $12 at the most. Catering will continue to be available.
“I hope this is the start of something big,” he says.
Once he’s up and running, Khila says he will put together sit-down dinners once a month. He’s not sure what form that will take: tasting menu, a la carte, standard menu? Everything is on the table. “It’s my opportunity to be creative,” he says.
The best part about operating the former Kous Kous was meeting people, Khila says. “The unbelievable friendships that I developed!” When diners saw him at the farmers market or out and about, he says they would always tell him how much they missed the restaurant. “I really, truly brought something different to the area. … It makes it worth it. All the sacrifice is for a good reason.”
For hours and days of operation, and additional details: www.kouskousexpress.com
LISA MARIE ON BEVERLY Even at the tender age of 16, Lisa Ringeisen knew she wanted to make people look their best, so she enrolled in beauty school through a tech school program in 10th grade. A family member was friends with Geno Como, who owned his eponymous salon at 309 Beverly Road. Como asked if Ringeisen could help him out around the salon a few days a week. She continued to work there after she got her beauty license at age 17, and started filling her book with appointments.
Now, 12 years later, Ringeisen bought the salon, calling it Lisa Marie Salon. Como had built up a great reputation over the 20 years he owned it, but he was ready to take a step back. Lisa had always wanted her own salon.
You can still find Geno Como there, one of seven employees. Lisa Marie Salon provides a full range of beauty services, including haircuts, hair color, perms, facials and eyelash extensions.
For appointments, call 412-563-1122. Walk-ins are welcome. Hours are Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. thelisamariesalon.com
AGELESS BOUTIQUE The best part about Sandra Marinelli’s boutique, Bella Sofia Moda Boutique, is that you can shop for your 15-year-old daughter, yourself and your mother at the same time. The new boutique, at 455 Cochran Road, specializes in contemporary clothing, shoes, accessories and the extras of life, such a handbags, sleepwear and costume jewelry. You also can find candles, soaps and other gifts, all at reasonable prices and in a broad range of styles.
Marinelli goes to shows in New York and Chicago to pick out the products, and she says she is careful to pick fun items you’re not going to see anywhere else. From flowing shirts to tailored looks to denim, variety is her focus.
Marinelli lives on Beverly Road with her husband, Anthony, and children, Carlo, 19, who attends Robert Morris, Sofia, 15, and Sonny, 13. She has a background in marketing but always wanted to open a women’s retail shop. “I started doing some research, and I really looked into it,” she says.
The boutique is a true family business. Anthony and Carlo did the construction work on the store itself, and the family’s annual trips to Italy have provided Sandra with peeks into emerging fashion trends.
Bella Sofia Moda Boutique is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 to 5, Thursday from 10 to 6:30, Saturdays from 10 to 4, and Sundays from 11 to 3. It is closed Monday. The boutique is on Facebook and Instagram, and although she doesn’t have a sales site online, if you see something you like on her social media, you can call and they will ship it to you. 412-668-2646.