When I get Brahim Hadj-Moussa on the phone, he’s cackling like a man who just won the lottery. “I’m closing because I’m the boss and I call the shots,” he says. “I’m so happy.”
The chef has owned and operated Grand Avenue Mediterranean mainstay the Barbary Fig for 27 years, almost as a one-man show. He's seen many restaurants come and many restaurants go in that time.
Hadj-Moussa was among the first to introduce flavors of North Africa to Minnesota all those years ago. It’s the first place this blogger ever ate couscous.
“I was the first person to put lavender in a dessert," he recalls. "People said, ‘I bathe with that!' I said, 'Well, your breath is gonna smell good, bitch!'"
But the straight-talking chef has had enough. He said that four years ago his hand signed the lease, but his “feet and belly weren’t in it.”
He’s personally cooked every single meal in those 27 years. “If I don’t come in, Barbary Fig is closed. Cooking comes very naturally to me."
But the endless woes of the chef/owner -- plumbing, refrigeration issues, health inspections, and "waitresses calling just before their shift begins" -- have taken their toll.
His plans are to travel the world, and “eat, drink, and smoke.”
Keep an eye on his social media feeds for a “long list” of what he plans to do with all of his free time. "I'm going to unleash the fury."
The restaurant will be open through the weekend, as well as for dinner service on Monday, and Hadj-Moussa’s prepared for the inevitable bombardment of business that closing restaurants always receive.
“I know it’s gonna be a shit show, but if someone wants to complain, I say— I don’t give a fuck!” He’s laughing again.
“I lived the American dream."
Barbary Fig will be open through regular hours on Monday, September 26.