Story

Marie's Bistro Is a Hot Spot in Blue Mountain Beach

April 26, 2012 by Joyce Owen

Hanie Nasri’s loves his customers. Everyone who arrives at Marie’s Bistro – whether for a drink, dinner or to enjoy the evening’s entertainment – is greeted with a smile and a warm welcome.

Hanie and Marie Nasri have a long history in the area. They moved to South Walton and opened a restaurant in Destin in 1984. And though they love the restaurant business, it can be a hard life for a family, so when their children were 8, 9, and 11, the couple sold the restaurant with the goal to give the children a good family life.

“It was time to work for others,” Hanie says.

He had remodeled his own home in Miramar Beach and following advice from a building inspector he got his builder’s license and began building homes. Marie went to work for Sandestin Resort, where she continues on a part time basis.

While they no longer owned a restaurant, they didn’t completely leave the food industry. The people who bought the restaurant weren’t interested in the catering business, so the Nasri’s continued to run it. Unlike owning a restaurant, managing the catering business provided the family the opportunity to do things with the children. If they had an event for the children, they would block off the night and Hanie could honestly tell prospective catering clients, “we’re booked.”

The beginnings of Marie’s Bistro in Blue Mountain Beach started when Hanie built a catering kitchen in the Sandestin area in 2009. As the catering business became more successful, they had to find a bigger venue. Marie and her sister had looked at a restaurant site in Blue Mountain Plaza before, but considered it too far from Destin. But times had changed and opening a restaurant on 30A made sense. When the Nasri’s returned to the same location to find it vacant and dark, they saw potential not only for the catering business, but with room for a small restaurant.

As popularity of the restaurant grew, they needed more room. They were fortunate to learn the rest of the building was available, allowing them to expand at the same location. The original dining room is used for dinner service and can be reserved for private parties, while the additional space, now referred to as the “barside”, has a full bar and larger dining area with room for live entertainment.

Guests often complete dinner and grab a seat at the bar to enjoy the evening’s entertainment, which has been a hit as well. Karaoke, DJ’s, belly dancing and performances by local musicians including Bill Evett, Kelsey Anna and Redd scheduled throughout the week with no cover charge.

The menu is varied with seafood, steak, pasta and sushi. The cuisine combines Cajun, Tex-Mex, Asian and Mediterranean styles with an emphasis on quality ingredients. Currently they offer lunch and dinner only, but they plan to add breakfast three days a week soon.
Hanie enjoys his current role: meeting and greeting customers and making sure their visit to Marie’s Bistro is a good one.

Recalling when he waited tables, he always introduced himself to diners, “I’m Hanie, I’ll be at your service tonight.” Customers weren’t accustomed to that kind of approach. For Hanie, it’s the way it’s supposed to be. “I’m honored to be your server. It’s not something I fake,” he says.
“I see this as a way to produce happiness. It’s what we want to do – provide a service for the community,” Hanie says.

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Joyce Owen

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