Chef Reza’s Story

Chef Reza is a 35-year veteran of the food industry, and has owned four notable restaurants in Germany and the Washington, DC metro area. His Pars Restaurant was a five-time winner of the Washingtonian Very Best Bargain Restaurant Award from 1997 – 2001.

Growing up in Iran, Chef Reza got his first taste of running a restaurant at the age of 12. As part of a Boy Scout project, he opened a small cafeteria at school with his friends for one week, each bringing something from home to sell to their classmates. “We didn’t particularly enjoy what our school cafeteria was serving, so we took it upon ourselves to fill the demand.” That experience sparked his interest in managing a food business.

At the age of 27, he opened his first restaurant, Vanak Sara, a 650-seat, high-end kabob experience. After moving to Germany in 1980 at the start of the Iran-Iraq war, Chef Reza learned the ropes of operating a restaurant in a new country, starting out as a dishwasher in an Iranian restaurant before becoming chef, and later opening several fast-casual restaurants in the country.

In 1994, Chef Reza moved with his family to Washington, DC, where he opened the much-acclaimed Portals Café. Next came Pars Restaurant, a five-time winner of the Washingtonian’s Very Best Bargain Restaurant Award, from 1997-2001.