Pepe Abed, a man who even has a port-side street named after him, was quite the ladies' man - and he has the pictures to prove it! They're all lining the walls of his outdoor restaurant in Jbeil, overlooking the ancient Phoenician water entrance to the city. Like my grandmother's family, he and his close ones found themselves in Mexico after the First World War, where he spent 20 years before returning to Lebanon in 1948. The ladies must have been running to welcome him back, as he appears to have been quite the casanova. Which girl wouldn't fall in love with a jeweller/ restauranteur/ decorator/ nightclub owner/ diver/ archeology-lover/ beach resort and hotel owner and actor?!
Pepe's Fishing Club restaurant, started in 1962, is the only survivor of his dynasty that included six touristic establishments in his heyday. Pepe has now passed away, and his son Roger has taken over the famous restaurant. When Mom told him that she was her Mexican-born uncles' niece, Roger's face lit up, recalling the times his father used to welcome the uncles to the restaurant, happy to have Spanish-speaking friends eat with him.
After having our fill of deep-fried fish (with skin and head still on) with fried bread and tahini on the colourful balcony overlooking old fishing and tourist boats, I'm not sure whether the uncles used to come to converse with Pepe in their home language or to indulge in the fresh fish. Oh, I know - they probably came for the ladies!
A wall dedicated solely to much-loved Pepe Abed.