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April 19, 2023

Portland Mediterranean eatery closes as owners mull next chapter

Deen Haleem File Photo / Tim Greenway Deen Haleem inside TIQA Mediterranean restaurant, which he owns and operates with his wife, Carol.

The owners of Portland’s TIQA Mediterranean restaurant inside the Courtyard by Marriott hotel announced plans to close the establishment as they mull over their next chapter.

“Over the past three years, since COVID started, we have faced an exhausting ever-changing set of dynamics that we have yet to figure out how best to handle — because of this — we have decided to close TIQA and consider all possible future options,” Deen and Carol Haleem said in a Tuesday Facebook post. 

“We will continue to be closed until a new direction is determined and we do not know how long that will take,” they added.

It was not immediately clear how many staff members will be affected by the closure of the restaurant, whose pan-Mediterranean menu features dishes from hummus and roasted eggplant baba ghanoush to meat kabobs and fish, lamb and polenta dinner entrees. The restaurant includes an outdoor patio.

The move comes as restaurant industry employment nationwide remains below pre-pandemic levels. Employers are continuing to hire, creating nearly 70,000 jobs in February, the National Restaurant Association found in its latest annual barometer, released April 6. It also found that restaurant employment remains below pre-pandemic levels in 28 states.

Looking ahead, the food service industry is projected to grow by 500,000 jobs this year, bringing the total to 15.5 million by the end of 2023. In addition, the food service industry is expected to reach $997 billion in sales in 2023.

TIQA's closure also comes more than two years after a staffing shortage prompted the restaurant to suspend operations for a few weeks in April 2021.

“The options were really horrible,” Deen Haleem told Mainebiz at that time. "We could have kept our restaurant open, which would have led to really overworking the existing kitchen staff as well as bad service and long wait times.” 

During that closure, the owners cleaned the establishment and updated the menu.

The current move appears to be more permanent, with several messages of gratitude on social media to staff, customers, partners and suppliers, and the city of Portland “that worked with us to open over nine years ago and who have always been open to feedback."

“We will keep you posted on what our final journey will be,” the couple promised.

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