ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A well-known Abilene restaurant was actually founded by two brothers who came from Iran. They were stuck in America, and they decided to open a restaurant called the Beehive, which has now been successful for 38 years. When you walk into the Beehive, you will see newspapers on the wall that show this steakhouse has a story.
“Here, people are comfortable. I mean, when they leave, they have to say goodbye to me. When they come, they go to the kitchen and say good morning Ali. We’re here,” says Ali Esfandiary, co-owner of the Beehive.
This restaurant has acted as a symbol of American opportunity for Ali and Nariman, the brothers who own it.
“This would never happen in any other country. Only in this country,” says Ali.
It was in 1968 when Ali moved from Iran to America because their father wanted his children safe, and his brother Nariman shortly followed him. Nariman says that he was 16-years-old, and it was difficult for him to move to a country where he did not even understand the language.
“My father’s cousin was the shah of Iran’s second wife,” says Ali.
Because of this relation, he says that they can never return to their home country.
“Our name is in the blacklist in the new Islamic revolution government,” says Ali.
They eventually joined the air force, leading them to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene., but they were not making enough money to support their families. They worked for other restaurants for a while, but they decided to work for themselves by opening their own. At 21 and 26 years old, they opened a restaurant called Fort Griffin in Albany, eventually known as the Beehive. Because they were Iranian, and there were American hostages in Iran during this time, they struggled to gain the respect from others.
“There was no respect for us at first. We had to earn our keeps,” says Nariman.
Their business struggled, but after 5 years, Nariman approached Ali and said, “How much paycheck do you need? You can have it. We’re making it.”
Now, their restaurant is recognized state-wide.
“You go somewhere in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, or Houston, and they ask where you’re from. You tell them Albany and they said, ‘oh my gosh, the Beehive,’” says Ali.
Ali says that because of the opportunity they found in America. “We made something impossible happen.”
These brothers say that their entire family made it over to America, except for one of his cousins. She is still in Iran, and he hasn’t been able to see her in over 40 years.