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San Francisco

Former 'Aziza' Space To Be Reborn As Moorish/Mexican 'Amara'

New life is on the horizon for 5800 Geary Blvd., formerly Moroccan restaurant Aziza—owner Mourad Lahlou and former chef de cuisine Louis Maldonado are launching Amara, a new venture that explores the synergies between Moorish and Mexican cuisine, according to a press release.

"Inspired by their combined heritage and the bounty of Northern California produce," the partners are developing "a menu that reflects the strong lineage of Moorish and Mexican cuisines and taps into the soul and comfort reminiscent of Aziza."

The restaurant will be open seven days a week with weekend brunch, featuring full cocktails, a wine list and shared plates.

Aziza, founded in 2001, was the first venture of restaurateur Mourad Lahlou. It featured a new take on Moroccan cuisine that established Lahlou on the national culinary scene—Aziza was the first Moroccan restaurant in the country to receive a Michelin star.

Lahlou earned another star a few years later for his work at his eponymous SoMa restaurant, which is a California slant on Moroccan flavors and techniques.

But since closing in May 2016 for what was meant to be a brief renovation hiatus, Aziza has been on hold. Originally meant to reopen with a slightly modified menu, the restaurant faced reportedly astronomical retrofitting costs and had to reconsider its approach.

“Louis has a history with Aziza, and roots in Mexico," said Lahlou. "We were able to see a lot of connections between Northern Morocco and Mexico and wanted to develop the concept into something genuine."

Although plans are still in the works, Lahlou said Amara is on track to open in December, or possibly early in 2018.

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