During the peak of Galveston’s tourist season, one bar in the island’s historic district, The Strand, is shutting down instead of reaping a windfall from an influx of beachgoing visitors.
ZaZa Bar and Bites, which specialized in Indian cuisine and martinis, gave no notice, onsite or online, before closing its doors for good June 5. That’s because owner Asad Khan, who is Muslim, said he had been on the receiving end of months of harassment and vandalism.
Khan declined to speak on Thursday, other than to confirm the date the business closed and to say, “I don’t need any additional attention. I worry about my family.
“I shut ZaZa down because of death threats toward me via phone calls,” Khan told the Houston Chronicle. “In the last seven weeks or so, [the] calls became worse. I did not enjoy ... people telling me I would die in ZaZa.”
Never miss a local story.
Late last year, he continued, he arrived to find the front of his restaurant covered in bacon and bacon grease. It is common practice for Muslims to abstain from eating pork. Khan reportedly immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1993.
Khan reportedly filed a police report after the 2016 incident, but some on social media have since accused Khan of fabricating the story.
“I had seen on Facebook when ZaZa was ‘baconed’ last year that people down here believed that I was behind it. It really hurt me,” Khan told the Chronicle. “There is no bankruptcy being filed. It’s easier to blame the victim than accept we have a problem.
“I opened ZaZa [as] a happy, little, fun project; this was supposed to be fun and love. Never did I think that people in Galveston are so closed-minded.
“People want me dead because of me being a Muslim,” he said. “I am honestly sick to my stomach. And, frankly, fearful.”