Chafik Chamoun

Chamoun’s Rest Haven
419 State Street
Clarksdale, MS 38614
(662) 624-8601

Born in small village near Zahlé, Lebanon, in 1932, Chafik Chamoun arrived in the Mississippi Delta with his wife, Louise, in 1954. The newlyweds came to Clarksdale, following in the footsteps of Chafik’s grandfather, who had arrived in the Delta decades earlier.

Chafik worked a variety of jobs to make ends meet, but, like many Lebanese immigrants before him, including his grandfather, he spent years peddling dry goods to tenant families. He eventually earned enough to open a small grocery store out on Friars Point Road in Clarksdale, where Louise often made him lunch: a kibbe patty wrapped in homemade Lebanese bread. Customers began asking about Louise’s “kibbe sandwich,” and soon, picnic tables dotted the parking lot, and Louise was serving traditional Lebanese foods to the people of Clarksdale.

In 1990 Chafik’s cousins, who had operated Rest Haven Restaurant since the 1940s, retired. Chafik and Louise purchased the Rest Haven, added their name to the sign out front, and have been serving Lebanese, American, and Italian favorites to loyal customers ever since.

FILM: View a short documentary film on Chamoun’s Rest Haven, The Rest Haven, that was made in 2010 by Mississippi Arts Commission director Malcolm White in collaboration with Barefoot Workshops.

Date of interview:

August 16, 2010

Interviewer:

Amy Evans

Photographer:

Amy Evans

Chamoun's Rest Haven - Chafik Chamoun - Delta Lebanese
[When I was peddling,] I didn't got no money, but I always loved to go to the store and buy, not the ten-cent sardines, I’d buy the King Oscar [brand]. And I still do it now, probably once a week. I go and I get me a can of King Oscar. In the old country, we didn't have it. We buy it here. And I take me a sheet of bread from what my wife used to make and onion and lemon and little tomato and sit on the bank of where I’m used to be or under the tree, and this is the best meal I ever ate in my life.

Explore Media