Customers can take a cruise down the Nile in Anderson. The city's Nile Mediterranean Cuisine is decked in Egyptian motifs and sculptures. The walls and seats bear the sandstone tones of the desert and Papyrus place mats sit on the tables. A gold-colored wooden casket of an Egyptian pharaoh greets visitors.
The Nile offers an array of dishes from Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and other places in the Middle East.
Owner Angele Naby and her husband Samir, both Egyptian immigrants who arrived in the United States in 1978, opened the eatery 11 years ago.
"My wife and a Lebanese friend of hers wanted something to fill their spare time with," said Samir, who worked as an engineer for many years before helping his wife with the restaurant. "My wife always cooked for pleasure at home and I think there is an appreciation for this type of food in Anderson."
Among some of the more popular items on the menu are gyros, falafel (an appetizer made from fava beans, cilantro and onions) and hummous (a dip made from chick peas, sesame seed oil, lemon juice, garlic and other spices). Most entrees, which include shrimp, steak and kebab dishes range in price from $9.95 to $12.95.
Samir noted the difference between Western Mediterranean food and Eastern Mediterranean food.
"Eastern Mediterranean (food) starts from Greece and goes around Turkey, Syria, Lebanon with some Jewish," he said. "You'll find pita bread a lot in their meals. The main meat is lamb, and baklava (a dessert consisting of nuts and honey wrapped in paper-thin filo dough) is well known throughout.
"(When) you start going west toward Italy, it becomes mostly pasta and then you go farther west toward Portugal, it's more seafood. We stay in the east."
Many loyal customers were initially attracted by the exotic cuisine.
"We liked Mediterranean food and unusual types of food," said Daleville resident Cynthia Guy, who was dining with her husband. "It's probably Angele and Samir that keeps us coming back. It's run by a family and it's not microwaveable food. The kitchen's back there."
"This is the only place like this in Anderson," said Tyler Soverns, who has worked as a server for almost a year. "Ninety percent of the menu you can't get anywhere else around here."
Soverns said he recommends the baked fish, but Samir said he likes customers to be surprised.
"If a customer comes in here and asks what do you recommend, I leave the door wide open," he said. "The menu lists what the ingredients are, and how the food is cooked. By doing that you have certain expectations, and when you get the meal you make the judgment. If it meets (his or her) expectations, you have a satisfied customer. If it exceeds (his or her) expectations, you have a flattered customer."
In spite of the Nile's Middle Eastern themes, Samir said his business has not been affected by Sept. 11, though sales have slowed somewhat due to economic setbacks.
"A lot of our customers were appreciative toward us and our concerns (after Sept. 11)," he said. "After all these years around, we built relationships with the customers and sometimes we feel like it's one big family."
The Nile is located at 723 E. 8th St. in Anderson. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day.