Owner Eizet Hussien purchased the restaurant from a relative in 2017. He immigrated to the United States in 2000 after a border conflict between Ethiopia and its neighbor nation, Eritrea, made it dangerous for Ethiopians with familial ties to Eritrea to remain in Ethiopia. Hussien’s father is from Eritrea, and his mother is from Ethiopia, he said.
Hussien worked as a hardware engineer at Toshiba before he developed his own point of sales systems, which he sold to restaurants in the Dallas area. Upon becoming owner of Addis Abeba, Hussien made some tweaks to the menu, but for the most part, he said, it looks the same as it has for 15 years.
Menu items at Addis Abeba include the hallmarks of Ethiopian cuisine, including shiro, a chickpea curry; kitfo, a spiced steak tartar made from lean ground beef; and doro wot, which is a chicken leg in a red pepper sauce. All dishes are served with injera, a sponge-like flatbread that doubles as a utensil.
Food in Ethiopia is eaten communally. As one of nine children, Hussien said he and his family would gather around a plate of food every meal, often inviting neighbors and friends to eat with them. This element of his culture was dampened during the pandemic, when sharing food was discouraged.
“Most people don’t eat by themselves,” he said. “I was surprised by how [Ethiopia] managed it—it’s a very dense community.”
COVID-19 was crippling for Addis Abeba, Hussien said. The restaurant still owes thousands in rent and was forced to shut down for the entire month of January when Hussien and his staff became infected with the virus.
Despite these challenges, Hussien remains optimistic. He said he believes business will pick up again over the next few months. In the meantime, he has installed touchless features in the restrooms and a new air purifier to make customers feel more comfortable.
“I hope people come back once they are vaccinated,” he said. “It’s been tough, but we are surviving.”
100 S. Central Expressway, Ste. 65, Richardson
Hours: Wed.-Mon. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Tue.