From June 23rd to 24th, the fast-casual chain NAYA debuted its authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, becoming the latest restaurant to join the recently built Darien Commons. Darien Commons is the 18th location for NAYA, with other locations across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Founded in 2010 by Hady Kfoury, NAYA’s mission has been to consistently provide customers with authentic and fresh food, using Middle Eastern recipes passed down generations.
As a preview to the grand opening, NAYA hosted an invite-only event that featured a live cooking demo by Top Chef Charbel Hayek and a Q&A session with Hayek and founder Hady Kfoury. Attendees were provided with a complimentary buffet to try some of NAYA’s popular dishes. This special sneak peek allowed some members of the Darien community to get a sense of what NAYA was going to be bringing to town in the weeks to come.
What makes NAYA’s location in Darien especially notable is its proximity to the Noroton Heights train station. Originally, NAYA began with locations primarily in New York City, yet its growing popularity brought it to the suburbs of Darien. Now Darien residents, especially those who may have recently relocated to Darien from the city, find familiarity and connection to New York City through NAYA. Even those who may be commuting daily from Darien to New York City can share their love for NAYA with family and friends in Darien. As people go from the city to the suburbs, NAYA goes with them.
In regards to NAYA's location in Darien, Kfoury said, “It was particularly fun to learn about many of our customers who have enjoyed our food in New York City, now having the opportunity to share the experience with their families.”
Since opening in June, NAYA has placed a significant emphasis on the importance of local arts. Throughout the first two days of its grand opening, customers received a “Pay-What-You-Wish” offer on NAYA’s signature Bowls and Rolls, all proceeds from which were donated to support the Darien Arts Center. The Darien Arts Center played a large role in NAYA’s grand opening, providing customers with family-friendly activities and opportunities to explore their creative side while enjoying their first taste of NAYA. Attendees had the chance to participate in face painting, paint on a communal mural and spin a prize wheel–with prizes ranging from NAYA’s retail partner, Za’atar Road, and the Darien Arts Center. In Darien, NAYA fosters a space for community, creativity, and authenticity.
Founder Hady Kfoury channels his own Lebanese heritage into NAYA’s cuisine, implementing different aspects of Lebanese culture and traditions. Authentic traditional foods like chicken shawarma, baba ghanouj or kafta lamb define NAYA’s taste, setting it apart from any fast casual restaurants around today. NAYA also provides kids meals, called “Little Habibi,” an Arabic term translating to “my love.”
Kfoury said, “Acknowledging the refined tastes and preferences of Fairfield County patrons, we look forward to not only sharing our cherished recipes and authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, but also cultivating a sense of togetherness through ongoing visual arts programming.”
Looking forward to what is to come in the next few months, NAYA will be partnering with the Darien Arts Center for children and adult art classes this fall. Children’s classes will take place at NAYA with a Darien Arts instructor leading participants in seasonal art workshops, ranging from Halloween to the winter holidays. Kids will be provided with the “Little Habibi” Kids Meal. Adult classes will take place at the Darien Arts Center, exploring a range of artistic mediums while sipping on some wine and snacking on NAYA’s light bites.
Kfoury said about NAYA’s connection to the arts, “As we move forward, we are excited to continue our partnership with the Darien Arts Center through the fall and beyond, while also shining a spotlight on local artists in the upcoming months.” NAYA brings a new and unique environment to Darien, one that is rooted in community and connection, and its presence in Darien is only growing.