Minden Press-Herald

Thursday
Oct 02nd

Italian restaurant coming to downtown

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The ink is dry on a lease agreement that will bring an Italian restaurant to downtown Minden.

Roma Italian Bistro is set to open at the corner of Main and Pearl Streets within three to four months.

Owners Forenc Leshnja and Tim Raka signed the lease agreement with Terry Gardner of the Gardner Group, which recently purchased the building with the intent of bringing in the restaurant.

Gardner was in Ruston about four months ago and chose to dine at Roma. That night he spoke with Raka about a possible Minden location. Oddly, Raka already had meeting scheduled with Minden Downtown Development Director Pattie Odom.

"This was one of our target towns," Leshnja said, as Minden is between their restaurants in Dallas and Ruston, with another set to open in Shreveport in about two weeks.
Roma serves up traditional Italian dishes, such as spaghetti, lasagna and ravioli, as well as New York-style pizza.

"Everything is fresh from scratch," Raka said. "The sauce is made at the restaurant."

And no Italian restaurant is complete without an extensive wine list. An "additional seating" area will also be open for those wanting to partake in adult beverage consumption.

Leshnja and Raka are originally from Albania, though they didn't know each other prior to coming to America in 1999 when they were 13 and 12-years-old respectively.

Leshnja met Raka's sister at a concert in Dallas, and after dating several years, married in 2010.

Leshnja, in the restaurant business since he was 21, teamed with his then-future-brother-in-law to open Roma.

"A customer would not leave town without one of our pizzas," Raka said. "He begged us to tome to Ruston. First of all, what is Ruston? We drove over and liked the town."

The Ruston location opened in February 2013, and the guys laughed that they are working their way back to Dallas along Interstate 20.

"It will be something special," Gardner said. "The pizza people in town better be worried."

 

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