Comforts & Carpets

The Crystal Bistro has great food—and great prices on clocks, bedspreads, carpets, screwdrivers. Make an offer!

"Usually they sell for $225 somewhere else," Hadi said, grabbing a coiled eight-foot rug and unfurling it with a snap. "But we sell for $59. Very good quality." The next thing I knew we were off on a whirlwind tour of housewares and furnishings, all arranged near the front register. "This grandfather clock arrived just yesterday, it usually sells for $650, but I sell it for $150," he proclaimed, tapping the wooden case of a tall clock with a big brass pendulum. There were mantle clocks, bunches of flowers threaded with fiber optic lights, oversized porcelain dolls, more.

On subsequent visits I realized that some tables held customers who were working with Hadi to import furniture straight from Asia via manufacturers' wholesale catalogs. I also realized that Hadi has a stable of regulars who come into the restaurant for bespoke feasts: $22.95 per person, for at least two people, gets a procession of special Afghani platters and bowls mounded with generous portions of all the things on his menu, or if you have favorites, more of one thing or another. I was blown away. This is hustle! This is hospitality! Everything you need on this mortal coil he's got for you—man, after all, does not live by bread alone! Why did I never see this before?

Hadi explained that his merchandise has been returned by retailers to the various importers who brought it into the country; however, the importers can't send the stuff all the way back to Asia, so Hadi takes it off their hands, and sells it to you for pennies on the dollar! One of my friends walked out with a screwdriver set. I got a burnt-velvet bed-in-bag duvet set—only $40! Please know that Hadi will not hold anything for anyone, even for his own mother—if you want it, you buy it! Inventory changes hourly!

All in the family: Hadi (left) and relatives with Crystal's best Afghani food
David Kern
All in the family: Hadi (left) and relatives with Crystal's best Afghani food

Location Info

Map

Crystal Bistro Afghani Cuisine

6408 Bass Lake Road
Crystal, MN 55428

Category: Restaurant > Afghan

Region: Crystal

I'm of two minds about all of this. On the one hand, in today's time-pressed society, I think this is more fabulous than banks in supermarkets: What if all good restaurants also met my home-furnishing needs? Then the good bakeries could send my thank-you notes and do my taxes, and boy howdy, productivity would triple! On the other hand, I don't want Hadi to run afoul of zoning, licensing, or what have you by my publicizing this—but I asked him if it would be okay to write about, and he said to go ahead. So, talk about this amongst yourselves, but don't make too much fuss and alert any problem-makers, okay?

It turns out that Hadi has been working this hard since 1981, when he fled the Soviet army in his native Afghanistan and made his way on foot through back mountains to Pakistan, then India, then Germany, and finally here; once in Minnesota he got almost all of his family over, too. "I don't work a lot, I work only 18 hours a day," explains Hadi. "People ask: How many days do you work, I say eight days a week." He says he can't afford to work any less, for now he's trying to sponsor his wife's mother and get her into the country.

In the end, I guess I've learned one more little thing about life: Sometimes the restaurants you should go go go to are the ones with the most go go go in them.

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