1964, Jamil Elias opened the Oklahoma City location. Tyrone ran it for a spell before Gawey, who started working at the restaurant in 1969, was lured out of law school in 1976. Elias died in 1978, with a location in Houston and three in Dallas operating.
Today, Gawey is serving virtually the same menu. He has a waitstaff and kitchen crew that change about as often as the expressions on Mount Rushmore. Tough to get bad service when your two-man crew has a collective 80 years’ experience.
Jamil’s is in a house built in the early 1930s and once was a private club in the ’50s. The ambiance is antique-store chic with a dash of sports. Portraits and photos from bygone days populate the walls.
During the state legislative session, state representatives and senators are a common sight in Jamil’s, generally eating smoked bologna sandwiches for as long as they can stay en vogue with voters.
Thick, juicy steaks never go out of style, and let’s hope the Lebanese hors d’oeuvres don’t either.