Opinion

Escaping the violence, landing in Enumclaw | Wally's World

Like the antique store, the restaurant in Collectibles On Cole has been open for more than a year. Marilyn Nelson, owner of the whole operation – that is, both the antique side and the cafe – ran the restaurant, with various cooks and servers, during the first few months.

After that, another local entrepreneur occupied the site for a month or so before moving to a new location and leaving the place in Marilyn’s lap again. She created a menu of Italian cuisine and tried two or three different cooks and as many servers. The place became a long-standing joke with the Mutual of Enumclaw crew: “When you go for lunch at CCs, you never know what kind of food you’ll get or who’ll serve it.”   All the while, Marilyn was still looking for someone to lease the business.

Well, her search is over. She recently leased the restaurant to the sons of a beautiful, intelligent – she speaks four languages fluently– lady who’s quite knowledgeable about the culinary business. And what a story she can tell.

Rose Ighani was raised in Iran. As a child, she began acquiring her food preparation skills and recipes from all over the Mediterranean region because Iran was a kind of culinary crossroads.

During the nine-year war between Iraq and Iran, she managed to start a family and work in various restaurants while dodging the explosions, soldiers and the terrible savagery around her. Through the years, her family endured horrible persecution owing to their religion. Members of her family were killed due to their beliefs. And, finally, when the military started sacrificing the lives of children to clear mine fields – that is, innocent children were forced to run across mine fields to clear a path – Rose decided it was time to leave her home.

So, late in the summer of 1986, in the middle of a moonless night, she strapped Michael, her 2-year-old son, to her back and tightly hugged her other son, 10-year-old Martin, to one side and her 7-year-old daughter to her other side. Together, they set off into the barren and deserted northern mountains – deserted, that is, except for the military. Traveling only after dark, with little water and even less food, they crawled and darted from rock to cave and from cave to rock until, somehow, after five days, they crossed the border into Turkey. Upon looking in a mirror, for a brief instant Rose didn’t even know who she was.

Via Canada, they came to America in 1999, settled in Tacoma and became U.S. citizens. During the next several years, Rose bought five restaurants in the Federal Way/Tacoma region, operated each for a time, and then sold them at a profit. The last restaurant she owned was Bistro Thyme in Bonney Lake, a place that was popular with customers from Enumclaw.   Her two sons graduated from college, one with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and the other with a B.A. in business.

One afternoon, while trolling the streets of downtown Enumclaw, she saw a lovely, silver serving set in the window of CCs and went inside for a closer look. She struck up a conversation with Adella King. One topic led to another and Adella mentioned the restaurant. And that was that.

This restaurant also will be called Bistro Thyme. Her sons will run the place but Rose will oversee the operation. It will specialize in Italian, Indian, Greek and Persian cuisine.

Rose has been quite amazed by America. She never before believed any nation could offer so much freedom and so many opportunities.

Thank you, Rose, for reminding us. Sometimes we forget.

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